Only real men
can wear it
No shoulder insignia in the U. S. Army
is more proudly worn than the red-white-
and-blue Octofoil of the Ninth Infantry
Division. Along with it goes the Belgian
Fourragere. You can wear both — if you’re
man enough to measure up to the standards
of a great lighting tradition.
The Ninth Infantry Division spear-
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helped stop Rommel and drove the enemy
into the sea at Bizerte. The Ninth was in
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Yes, the Ninth was a great outfit then
and it is now. Today’s Combat Soldier is
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are a veteran of the Armed Forces you
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Get the facts at your U. S. Army and
U. S. Air Force Recruiting Station.
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All StosUed Go-mplete
QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD
(Novel) by Berkeley Livingston 8
Illustrated by Rod Ruth
The strength of Queen Luria and her black panther hordes was not equal to the cunning of
Loko and his lizard men— unless Luria could capture the enchanted Croana bird . . .
MIRRORS OF THE QUEEN
(Short) by Richard S. Shaver 90
Illustrated by Virgil Finlay
Lola was a queen in her own way— queen of the mirrors in a burlesque show. But these were
not ordinary mirrors, for they opened, like windows, into a strange, alien world . . .
CONTRACT FOR A BODY
(Novelette) by Webb Marlowe 108
Illustrated by William A. Gray
It seemed like an easy way to obtain money— all you had to do was sign your name to a con-
tract and your body was sold, to be delivered after death. But there was a catch . . .
(Short) by Warren Kastel 136
Illustrated by William A. Gray
The Niles City Air Race meant a lot to Chocks Benson, especially the $5000 first prize. And the
lack of an airplane didn't worry him, for Benson had a carpet— a flying one . . .
Front cover painting by Ramon Naylor, illustrating
a scene from "Queen of the Panther World."
Copyright 1948, ZIFF-DAVIS PUBLISHING COMPANY
Member of the Audit Bureau of Circulations
We do not accept responsibility for the return of unsolicited manuscripts or artwork. To facilitate
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Y OU readers may be receiving this issue of
FA a few days late. We apolize for this, and
don’t like it any more than you do, but
unfortunately we are in the midst of a strike in
the printing industry here in Chicago at this
publication time, and as a result your favorite
magazine has been caught in the middle of it. But
don’t worry about receiving future copies of FA
and the best in science — fantasy fiction it rep-
resents — we’ll get the magazine to you if we have
to mimeograph it and send it by carrier pigeon!
So bear with us.
N OW to get down to this month’s stories.
You’ve already admired the swell cover by
Ramon Naylor, no doubt, so we won’t have to
tell you much about that. But the story around
which the cover was painted is another matter.
Old-timer, and top-notcher, Berkeley Livingston
has turned in a typical Livingston masterpiece in
“Queen of the Panther World.” You’ll be a little
surprised by this yarn for you’ll find Berk has
actually written himself in as one of the major
characters in the story. You think that’s bad?
Or maybe you’re wondering if it was a wise thing
for an author to do? Well you read the story
first, and then decide. Then write us.
R ICHARD H. SHAVER returns this month
with a neat little fantasy, also about a queen.
But the queen in Dick’s story is quite a different
gal than the one in our lead novel for this month.
Dick writes about a “queen of the burlesque”, a
lady w'ho didn’t use veils so much for sensational-
ism, but mirrors. And that’s where the story
begins, with the pecular set of mirrors used in a
burlesque act. Where the story ends up would
be unfair to tell you here, so you’ll just have to
swallow the teaser we’ve handed you and find out
for yourself! Incidentally, Dick dropped in the
other day and said that if possible he’d like to
have us tell you that he’s very glad the readers of
FA have taken such an intense interest in the
“Shaver Mystery Club”, and that also, for any
who missed the letter concerning the club’s ac-
tivities in the May issue, he’d be very glad to have
them get in touch with him at 2414 Lawrence
Ave., Chicago, and join. We think it’s a good
idea too, for any of you readers who want to find
out more about the Shaver Mystery, and you’ll
certainly make a lot of pen-pals.
T HIS month, in keeping with our policy of
presenting new writers to you as often as we
can, we’re presenting a novelette by a new writer
in the field, Webb Marlowe. The story, entitled,
“Contract For A Body”, is a darn good fantasy
every way you look at it. It concerns a man who
needed money pretty badly, and found that the
only way he could get it would be to sell his body.
No, not his soul— his body. Where is the fantasy
in that? Well we can assure you that you’ll find
plenty of it, not to mention the fact that Marlowe
hit on a neat twist to an old theme. We think
the lad has plenty on the ball, but w’ill leave that
up to you when you write us about the story.
W ARREN KASTEL finishes up the issue this
month with a swell little fantasy, entitled,
“Air Race.” This is the story of a flyer who en-
tered an air race without an airplane. Impossible,
you say? Well not quite. It seems that this flyer
had something that was slightly better than an
airplane — a flying carpet. No, don’t sit back so
smug now and say you know the end of the story.
Sure he has to win the race, you say. But we
think you’ll be more than a little surprised at
the ending to the story WLH
N OW — you may obtain one of the world'* rare
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STRAVON PUBLISHERS, Dept. B-497
113 West 57th St., New York 19, N. Y.
It was a strange world, this world of
Amazons and panthers — where all men
bowed their heads in fear of the great Queen
Luria . . .
The Amazon moved quicker than t had expected, and suddenly my head rocked from a terrific blow. .
I DO NOT say that adventure can-
not begin anywhere. Of course it
can! And usually does. But let us
speak of specific places. I once met a
Metropolitan baritone singing in a cheap
honky-tonk on west Madison Street. He
said it was the only place he knew of
where he could act as he wished, drink
what he wanted and talk to the people
he wanted. And fight with whom he
pleased. Turned out he had once
planned on being a fighter until some
rich woman heard him sing. . . .
I was once a skip-tracer for a collec-
tion outfit and followed a man all the
way to Mexico City; he owed a cer-
tain merchant fifty thousand dollars
and had the money. And while I was
trying to locate this skip the police of
Mexico City thought I was an interna-
tional agent and dogged my steps until
one night they thought they had some-
thing on me and clapped me in the cal-
aboose and held me incommunicado for
twenty-four hours before I could get in
touch with the consulate. . . .
But let me be even more specific.
It began on a wondrous spring day.
Summer was not quite ready to thrust
its heat against us, the air was warm
and fragrant with growing things, I had
a couple of bucks in my kick and I had
just fallen out of love. I believe I said
it was a wonderful day . . .? Well, I’d
called Henry Sharpe the night before
and we had made plans to go to Brook-
field Zoo where the animals can come
up close and sneer at the humans.
“A weekday’s best,” Sharpe said as
I slid into the seat beside him. “Sunday
brings out the week-end nature lover
and his camera. Besides, the animals
aren’t quite so bored on a week-day.
“Maybe what?” I asked. I wasn’t
looking at him but was watching him
get out into the traffic of La Salle
“Nothing,” he said shortly. He was
looking straight ahead but there was an
odd crinkle to his forehead as though
he were thinking of something which
* j|c *
We parked and began the long walk
to the animal houses. As Hank had
predicted there weren’t many people
about. I saw a group of school children
herded by their teacher moving de-
terminedly toward the aviary. But our
paths did not converge. Sharpe is the
fastest walking little man I’ve ever
known. I’m not on the big side myself
and it’s always been a problem keeping
up with him unless I go at a half-trot.
After some few hundred yards, I was
getting a bit winded.
“Hey! Take it easy. We got all day,”
I said, panting heavily.
“Sorry, Berk,” he said. “But it’s
such a relief getting away from those
damn drawings. . . . Besides, I’m anx-
ious to see something.”
“So am I,” I said. “But at the rate
we’re moving I’ll need a chair to see
them in. I’m that pooped."
We slowed after a while to a more
sedate run. By that time I’d given up
the struggle and was dragging my tail
ten feet behind Sharpe. I had been so
busy just keeping pace with him I
hadn’t even noticed where he had made
his goal. I leaned my weight over the
iron rail and looked across the moat
to where the animals lolled in the sun.
The scene was a rocky bit of jungle
land. There were painted limitations of
rocks, bushes, trees, and a small grotto
led to the inside cages. There were some
four of them there, great black things,
panthers all; mama, papa and a couple
of baby panthers which didn’t look any
different than their parents. At least
their teeth were no smaller when they
/"\NE OF them rose and strolled to
the edge of the moat and fell to
his haunches and stared at us out of
his great yellow eyes. There’s some-
thing about the big cats, lions, tigers,
panthers, the whole feline tribe, down
to the smallest tabby, that reaches right
down and pulls at the atavistic remem-
brances of man. I felt the hair rise at
the nape and knew my breath was
catching as the beast looked at the two
of us. It was as though I could reach
through the bone and fur to that tiny
brain and pluck out what lay there. It
was as if he was saying, five minutes
out there and we’d see who’d be boss.
“That’s right, baby,” I said aloud.
“But you’re in there and I’m out
here. . . .”
“Huh?” Hank whirled to me.
I grinned and told him what I had
been thinking of. But the grin was
wiped from my lips at what I saw in
his eyes. They were just wild in excite-
“So you heard it too,” he said.
“Heard what?” I asked.
“What the panther said.”
QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD
“Now wait a minute. I didn’t hear
anything! A picture formed in my mind
of what the beast might be thinking if
he could think.”
He turned back then and looked at
the beast. I saw that his fingers were
white against the rail. I saw too that
the knuckles were bloodless. Something
was wrong. I puzzled over it then
turned my attention to another of the
tribe. This one I hadn’t seen before. He
was coming out of the semi-darkness
of the grotto into the sunlight. I gasped
at the size of him. He was the biggest
panther I’d ever seen, a full seven feet
from head to tail-tip. He stalked out
into the sunlight and stood poised, the
only movement a sinuous twitch, of the
black tail. I don’t know how the beast
at the lip of the moat heard or knew
of the other’s presence, but before our
amazed eyes, it turned and leaped to-
ward the other with a blood-chilling
scream of anger.
I heard Hank’s sibilant intake of
breath, heard the muted, “Aah!” that
came from his lips. But my whole at-
tention was taken by the drama be-
The giant panther waited the coming
of the smaller one with the utmost
equanamity. It didn’t do any more than
face the other. Not even its tail
twitched. Yet when the smaller one was
but a few paces away; in fact the other
had already leaped in a wild lunge,
then the big beast moved. But when it
moved it was a greased streak of black
lightning. I have never seen anything
move so fast. One second it was facing
its adversary, the next it had reared
and slashed at the bundle of charged
dynamite which had flung itself at him.
There was but a single blow. There
must have been terrific power in that
paw to do what it did. For the smaller
beast was flung a good five yards
through the air. It landed heavily on
its back, rolled over and began to drag
itself toward the other. I saw then that
its back had been broken by the blow.
I let a whistle escape my lips.
There was more to come. As though
the smaller one’s leap had been a signal
all the others converged on the single
monstrous thing in the center of the
arena. Only this time the immense
beast did not wait for the attack. It
leaped like a bolt straight for the
largest of its enemies. I didn’t know
that the big cats felt or knew fear. At
least not till then. But as the huge thing
left its feet, the smaller one turned and
leaped screaming for the protection of
the grotto. And behind it came the oth-
ers. I turned quickly to the remaining
one. It stood facing the grotto mouth
after it landed. There was a snarl on
its mouth and the huge canines turned
me cold inside.
T COULDN’T take my eyes from the
-*■ monster. It moved so slowly, so pre-
meditatively. I watched it move toward
the maimed panther which had stopped
its futile movement and lay stretched
full length on the ground. The big one
approached the other at an angle. When
it was only a few feet away it swerved
and came in from the rear. The beast on
the ground must have had an intuitive
idea why because it tried to turn to face
the enemy. Before it could complete
the turn the big one was on him. It was
over quickly. A single, bone-crunching
snap of the huge jaws and life departed
for the broken-backed panther. It was
then the keepers appeared.
A shuddering sigh was wrenched
from Hank’s lips as the keepers busied
themselves with fire hoses, used, I sup-
posed for just such an emergency. The
powerful streams of water hit the pan-
ther from three sides and drove him
snarling backward to the grotto. When
it finally disappeared into it a gate was
lowered. I wanted to stay and see what
happened then. But Hank had other
“No. I’ve seen enough,” he said. “Be-
sides, I’ve got something to tell you.”
We didn’t go far, only to the place
where the elephants stood, great brown
splotches against the deeper brown of
their surroundings. Hank made sure we
were removed from the rest of the
crowd before he began to talk.
“Berk, do you think I’m goofy?” he
“The goofiest guy I know,” I said
with a laugh. “I’ve always said that . .
He should have smiled. He should
have done anything but what he did,
grab my wrist and pull me closer to
“Wait!” he said sharply. “I’m not
kidding. Let me start from the begin-
ning because that way I’ll get things
“In the first place you know the kind
of guy I am about animals. Always
traipsing off somewhere, to the Forest
Preserve, or the dunes or some zoo or
other. Just because I like to see the ani-
mals, the big ones and the little ones.
I’ve always been interested in them, as
if there was a bond between us. You’ve
often mentioned that I’m the only guy
you know who can walk up to a cat, for
instance and immediately it’ll start pur-
ring. Or to a dog, no matter how big,
and it’ll eat out of my hand. Well,
something strange happened last week.
Brookfield opened then for the summer.
Of course I was one of the first to get
“Well, through the years I’ve become
pretty well-known out here and they
let me have my run of the place. So the
first thing happens, Joe Edson, the head
keeper grabs me and drags me up to the
big cat house. Takes me up to the pan-
ther cage and says:
“ ‘Look, Hank.’
“Look at what?” I asked.
“ ‘The size of that cat.’ ”
“Berk, it was the biggest cat I’ve
ever seen. Now get this. Panthers are
the smallest of the big cats. They’re
really small lions. But this baby, the
same one we just saw was bigger than
even the biggest lion. But it was a pan-
ther. It was a panther but for one thing,
its canines. They were those of a tiger.
Bigger, longer, Berk, than any tiger’s.”
I was following him pretty good. So
far he hadn’t said anything to warrant
the state of excitement he was in. But I
hadn’t heard everything.
He went on :
“Ed got a call from one of the keepers
just then and I was left alone. The cat
was in a far corner. Soon as Ed left the
cat got up and moved close to the bars
and faced me. He looked at me with
those devil’s eyes of his and his lips
parted in a grin. Damn! It was almost
human, that grin. I wondered where
they got such a magnificent animal. . . .
Berk! I swear to God, this is what hap-
pened. The cat said, ‘You wouldn’t be-
lieve it if it were told to you.’ ”
T KNOW I was smiling when he said
what he did. And I know the smile
was still on my face as I turned and
looked him full in the eyes. But a cold
rope dragged itself down my spine and
of a sudden my hands felt clammy with
sweat. He must have seen something of
what went on in my mind because he
went on quickly:
“Yeah! Sounds goofy. Really insane.
But true. As I stand here with you, it’s
the truth. And there’s even more. I guess
I just stared at the damned cat. Sud-
denly it moved back and forth against
the bars in that sinuous walk only cats
have. After a few turns it came back
and faced me again. It was just as
though its mind was troubled and the
turns it took enabled it to clear its mind
QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD
for what it wanted to say. ‘She brought
me here to prove something. But now
I’m in this prison and only she can get
me out. You must help me. . .
“There were words trembling on my
lips but they simply wouldn’t pass. I
was speechless. Yet he read my mind.
For he answered the words which had
formed in me. ‘You are the only person
on this planet who can help me. Project
your thoughts into the great void. Call,
Luria. . . . And when the answer comes,
say that Mokar believes. . . .’
“I guess I was in a sort of mental fog
for a while after that because the next
remembrance was of my studio. I sort
of came out of the trance I was in and
found myself on the couch. I know that
I had left the zoo and driven back to
fhe studio; I must have! Anyway, the
first thought in my mind was what Mo-
kar had said. I did it. . . .”
“Did what, Hank?” I breathed softly.
“Called to this Luria.”
“And . . .?”
“She not only answered, she came to
me. Not in flesh,” he hastily assured me.
“It was a sort of picture I got of her.
Oh, man! What a picture though. I deal
in beauty. Now and then we run across
some beautiful models. But this Luria
. . . Out of this world is the only way to
describe her. Her skin was white as the
proverbial snow and yet it had an odd
pinkish glow to it. Her hair was mid-
night and it sparkled as though a mil-
lion snow flakes were reflecting light
from it. She wore a breastplate which
concealed her charms yet barely cov-
ered the swelling flesh so that my breath
was taken from me. Below the plate she
was bare to her loins which again were
covered by a leather belt from which
dangled a jeweled dagger. In her hand,
the right one, she carried a spear with
an immense blade, slim, and murderous
“She was clothed in mist which
swirled and eddied about her. Because
of this strange mist the picture was none
too clear except in glimpses. But the
oddest part of the whole scene was a
something that lurked in the back-
ground. Lurked is the only word for it.
It was never clear at all. I got the feel-
ing of a long body, wetly metallic-look-
ing and covered by a serrated series of
spines. But as I say, I’m not sure. May-
be that was the proof of my halluci-
I released my breath in a sigh and
“The wrong one of us is writing. I’d
say this dame brought out the poet in
you, Hank. Never have I heard a
woman described so. Now look . . .”
“I was sober. More sober than at any
time of my life,” he said, as though he
knew what I was going to say. “But let
me finish. The message of Mokar came
to my mind and I saw her lips smile.
They formed words and across the
misty dimness came the answer, “Tell
Mokar I shall come for him soon.” He
hesitated for an instant, open and closed
his mouth and finally said nothing.
“And that’s the last you’ve ever heard
of or seen the beautiful dream gal, Lu-
ria?” I said.
He shook his head, yes.
J DIDN’T know what to say. Hank
Sharpe was my dearest friend. He
was a mixture of the strangest things,
for at one and the same time he was the
most hard-headed, clear-thinking man
I’d ever known; and at the same time
the world’s greatest romanticist. He
spoke of the evil of man with a knowing
look. Yet he could not believe evil of
anyone. He was as small as I and even
thinner, and no one has ever called me,
big-boy, but he was as strong as a horse
with hands that were like a carpenter’s,
tough and muscular. I’ve seen him slap
a guy and send the guy all the way
across a tavern floor with that slap. He
had a head that was bit too large for
the rest of him, with a face that was
long and lean and handsome. And there
was nothing I wouldn’t do for the guy.
. . . But this deal he was talking of
sounded like a hashish dream.
It couldn’t be, though.
There might be a way of finding out,
I thought of a sudden. “Look, Hank,”
I said. “Let’s mosey over to the cat
house. I want to see something.”
There was quite a crowd on the out-
side. Evidently the word of the fight
had spread and they had gathered to
see what there was to be seen. There
wasn’t much. What blood had flowed
had been washed clean by the hoses.
Of the cats nothing was to be seen. We
strolled around and walked into the
huge place. It was apparent which cage
the panthers were in by the crowd
watching. We joined the others.
Being on the small side we edged our
way through the crowd until we stood
against the iron railing which separated
the cages from the spectators: The an-
imals in the cage were restless. Whether
it was the fight which had made them
so or something else, they paced back
and forth, growls rumbling deep in their
throats and sometimes coming past the
furry pockets. Oddly enough, the larg-
est and most ferocious, the huge jet-
black beast whose name was Mokar,
was the least restive. He lolled at his
ease on the shelf which they used for
resting and sleeping.
He was lying there until he spotted
us. Then with an immense and effortless
leap he was at the bars, his great yellow
eyes searching our faces. Suddenly it
happened. I swear Mokar smiled. Those
fearsome lips parted in a huge cat’s grin.
And Hank turned to me and said:
“Let’s go. He understood.”
It was just too much for me. I shook
my head and started to follow Hank.
But I hadn’t done more than make a
half-turn when he gripped my forearm
so hard I yipped in pain.
“It’s her,” he whispered in a voice
Like a flash I followed the direction
of his eyes and beheld her. I knew it
was her. Yet she was like night and day
as far as accuracy of description. Only
in the small wave of hair which peeked
beneath the hood of her coat was there
something of what he’d described, the
hair whose blackness held the sheen of
a million reflected snowflakes. Her skin
too was as he said. But that face! It
was the face of a million men’s dreams.
So alluring, so innocent, eyes that
begged for love, and knew only virtue,
lips whose redness made one hungry for
their touch, and a skin that was like a
flower petal. I felt my fingers contract
in a spasm, as though they had a will
to fly toward that loveliness for a
“Your friend likes me,” the girl said.
She had spoken and in perfectly un-
“I’m glad,” she went on. “Mokar will
“He will?” I said.
“But of course. He has learned his
lesson and I have found what I looked
for. Now we will go out of this place of
prison into the clean air. Come!”
JT WAS a command. And we fol-
lowed. She led us directly to one
of the open-air confectionery stands.
She walked up and ordered an ice cream
cone. I reached for the dime automat-
ically. But Hank ordered two more and
paid for them. She turned and walked
to a bench close by. We followed as if
we were tied to her by a string. So we
sat, the three of us, munching on our
cones until the last of them were licked
up. All the while she sat and stared at
anything and everything but us.
QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD
She sighed breathless after a while
and still looking straight ahead, said:
“It is good not to be alone. Poor
Mokar. He missed me and could not
get through the valley of the mists to
me. Luckily he found you, my friend.”
Hank is a slow-acting guy most of
the time. Then again he acts with the
speed of a fighter throwing a counter
punch. This was one of those times.
Suddenly his hands imprisoned hers
and he was facing her.
“Uh, huh,” Hank said. “That’s right.
He found me and you found me. So that
makes everything just right. But where
does it leave me?”
She was innocence itself. “How do
“Who are you? Where do you come
from? What’s this all about, this busi-
ness with Mokar ; how did you manage
to hypnotize me into the dream I had?”
Hank shook her hands imprisoned in
his for emphasis.
She didn’t answer immediately but
looked down at her hands which were
beginning to show a redness from the
tightness of his grip. Hank flushed and
released her hands. She threw back her
head in an odd gesture and the hood fell
away from those beautiful tresses which
fell in a wonderfully effective wave
about her shoulders. Even I, who can
take my women or leave them alone,
felt a thrill at the sight.
“I am Luria,” she said. “You know
that. And I come from the valley of the
mists. . .
“You come in dreams,” Hank said.
“In dreams of mist and terror.”
I gaped at the man. What the heck
had gotten into him? He had turned so
that his profile was to us. This time it
was she who took the initiative. She
took hold of his hands and began to
“I came to you across the great void.
It was hard for I was already here and
I had to transpose my soul-self back to
the place from whence I’d come. There
is no other but you who can understand
me. Yet we live side by side. Our worlds
are the same. The same in the same
time. Will you come back with me and
live in this side-by-side world? The time
has come when I have need of you. . . .”
“Wait a minute, Hank!” I broke in
before he could give this girl an answer.
“Don’t listen to her. It’s some sort of
gimmick she’s got that’s working you.
I don’t trust her.”
“I do, Berk,” he said. “I know she’s
in trouble. I guess I knew it, from the
beginning. And I want you to come
along with us.”
“Oh boy!” I chortled in simulated
glee. “Ain’t that going to be just ducky.
Come on along and play, he says. And
how do we do that? Hold hands across
a table while the lights are out and wait
for the message?"
“You’re not scared, are you?” he
“Now we’re playing kid games,” I
said. “I dare you . .
j-JE TURNED again so that he was
facing her. “Is it possible to bring
my friend along?”
She nodded. The wrinkle went out of
his forehead and a smile lighted his
face. He got up and stepped in front
“Well?” he asked.
“Well what?” I was mad. Yet at the
same time I felt a thrill of excitement.
If, I thought, if such a thing could be,
why I could write of it later. Fame and
fortune could be waiting for me at the
end of the trail. But what the heck were
we dreaming of? The whole thing was a
lot of talk. Dream stuff and coincidence.
I snorted loudly. Hank turned back to
her and said:
“See. IPs my personal charm. He
can’t resist it. It’s because I smoke
Regents. They give off that wonderful
aroma and make me nonchalant. Also
an outcast. Berk smells that way nat-
“Mokar will be glad,” she says. “He
likes your friend.”
“Yeah?” I said, quick-like. “Well, I
like him too. Just where he’s at, behind
“Oh,” she said just as quickly. “He
won’t be for very long. When you get
to know him better you’ll grow much
more fond of him. He’s so affectionate.”
“Then he and Hank’ll get along swell.
Hank’s an animal lover. Now why
couldn’t he have been crazy about fish?
I’ve always been wild about mermaids,”
Hank hummed a bit about, “wild
about Nellie.” I was too far from him
to get in a kick at his shins. Suddenly
she rose. It was a movement that was
as lithe and sinuous as an animal’s. Her
fingers threw the hood back around her
hair. Hank started to join her but she
shook her head.
“No. I must go alone . . she said.
“But how . . .?”
She knew what he meant. “I will
come to you when the time comes,” she
said. “Nor will it be long.”
I covered a grin. Now she was cook-
ing with butane. So she was going to
come when the time was ripe. I figured
we’d better not hold our breaths that
long. We’d probably be ripe too.
But Hank was all trust and hope. He
acted like a kid with the promise of a
day at the circus before him. His eyes
were shining in anticipation of the day.
Man alive! You’d think he was ten in-
stead of thirty. His eyes followed her
trim, but very trim, figure until it dis-
appeared into the big cat house.
“Okay kid,” I said. “You can wake
up. Dream’s over.”
His lips were bent in a crooked grin
but his eyes were dark in some inner
thought which was extremely pleasant.
. . Not yet,” he said after a mo-
JT WAS some day in the week, I
think Tuesday; at any rate it wasn’t
long after our visit to the zoo, that I got
a phone call from Hank. I was busy on
a fantasy for Fantastic Adventures
that had to do with flying disks and I
wanted to get some of the facts in order.
I had a fistful of clippings on my desk,
a cigarette burning itself to death in the
ashtray, and a brow full of wrinkles on
my forehead. The phone at my side rang
and I cussed it as I lifted it from the
“Berk!” Hank’s voice crackled in ex-
citement. “Come on over. But fast!”
Oh fine, I thought. He’s been dream-
ing again. Then another thought pierced
me through. Maybe . . .?
“You mean . . .?” I began.
“Right. Drop what you’re doing and
shoot out here.”
“But look,” I began. There was no
need to go on, unless I wanted to talk
to myself. He’d hung up. Believe me I
was in just that mood, talking to myself,
I mean. The disk story had to be on the
editor’s desk by Friday. And I had a
good six thousand words to do on it yet.
The air was blue with nasty words as I
shoved the chair away from the desk
and put the old money-machine away.
Now why did Hank have to dream, I
thought as I put on a pair of slacks! I
work in shorts and nothing else. A tee
shirt followed the slacks and then socks
and shoes. I gave the desk a look of
regret as I turned for a last look before
closing the door. It was going to be a
long time before I saw that desk or
Hank shared a loft studio on north
State Street with a couple of other
QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD
artists. He was alone, sitting before his
work desk. There was a half-finished
pen and ink drawing on the board. He
heard my clattering steps on the rickety
stairs and met me at the door. He
grabbed my wrist and dragged me into
his part of the studio.
“Last night,” he began without pre-
amble. “She came to me. She said she
would see me again this afternoon. She
was in trouble. I saw it in her face. I’ve
got to help her. Berk, u>e’i>e-got to help
I tried to throw some cold water on
him. The whole deal had lost its appeal
to me. What the heckl I had this story
to do for the boss and besides ... I
found a seat among the magazines on
a chair and said:
“Now listen to me, Hank. I’m seri-
ous. I went along with this dream-book
stuff you gave me because I thought it
was some kind of a gag. I didn’t know
it was serious. But if it is you’d better
see a psychiatrist. Hallucinations may
be all right until they reach the stage
where a man can’t tell them from
“I guess it’s time we talked this thing
over seriously. I don’t know how it be-
gan but I can hazard a guess. I’ll bet
you went to a party with some of those
wacky friends of yours and there was
a hypnotist there. And so the gag was
for him to use you as a guinea pig. I’ll
bet there was this gal we met, at the
party. The idea being to see how far
post-hypnotism would work. I’ve got to
hand it to the lad who did the hynotiz-
ing. He did an A-l Job.”
“Uh uh,” Hank said. “You’re wrong.
You’re . . .”
We both noticed it at the same time.
All of a sudden there was a terrific
breeze in the room. I started to close
the window, only I didn’t make it. It
was as if someone had glued me to the
chair I was in. I could see, hear, smell,
reason, but couldn’t act. I was aware of
what was going on only I seemed not
to be part of it.
I say there was a great gust of blow-
ing in the room. Yet not a paper stirred,
not a leaf in the magazines turned. In
fact not a material thing felt the wind’s
effect except Hank and myself. I saw
his hair blowing about his face, saw his
shirt collar flap against his chin and
knew the same thing was happening to
me. I was turned three-quarters to the
window and though I couldn’t turn
completely I saw that not a leaf stirred
on a tree directly outside the window.
Not a bit of dust blew. And I even saw
a man mop his brow below us. The wind
increased and with it came a cloud of
darkness. It’s the only way I can de-
scribe it. It was a mist of inky black-
ness and it flowed up from out of no-
where. I tried to move out of its path.
I could feel my muscles strain as I did
my utmost to lift myself from its path
as it rolled toward Hank and me. But
though the sweat stood out on my fore-
head in huge damp drops and rolled
down my arms and chest, all my efforts
were unavailing. The black curtain en-
veloped us. It not only encircled us so
that nothing was to be seen beyond it,
it also did something to our minds. For
suddenly all was darkness.
'"pHERE was a dull feeling at the
back of my head. And my neck felt
stiff. I opened my eyes and looked
blankly about me. We were both still
sitting as we had been. Hank looked
asleep. I shook my head and instantly
realized the spell or whatever it was
“Hey! Hank! Wake up fella.”
As I called to him I rose from my
chair. I groaned aloud as every bone in
my body ached with the effort. My
words seemed to have no effect. I stag-
gered a bit in the few feet which sep-
9UEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD
The monstrous beasts were coming at ut
with the speed of express trains, and
the riders were shouting in triumph . . .
arated us. My hand had little life in it
as it shook him weakly. But it was
enough. His eyes opened and looked
dazedly about him. Then they began to
focus and reason returned to their
depths. The old grin appeared on them
and he said:
“Well? What do you say now?”
I blew out my breath and sighed. Was
nothing going to convince him? But of
course. All he had to do was see the out-
side. I whirled and pointing through the
“Lo-oo — yeow! ”
The last was a screech of horror. This
wasn’t State Street. This wasn’t Chi-
cago. This wasn’t anything I’d ever
seen. This was Hell!
We were no longer three flights up.
We were at ground level. And what
ground. It looked like some cataclysm
of nature had ripped and twisted the
ground in a mad convulsion. It was bare
of foliage and brown and hard with
huge boulders strewn about as if giants
had been rolling them in a game of
bowls. We seemed to be in a sort of
hollow, like the bottom of a soup plate.
I couldn't see what lay beyond the lip
of the bowl. Hank must have seen the
terror and bewilderment in my eyes. He
rose and stepped to my side.
‘Holy cats!” he breathed softly.
“I could think of other things,” I
said. “All appropriate to the land-
“Save it!” he said sharply. “Let’s
take a look around.”
Too anxious I wasn’t to see what there
was to be seen. But I wouldn’t have
stayed alone in the room for all the tea
in China. Matter of fact I hoped we
were in China. But at the pit of my
stomach was a feeling we weren’t in
China. It was the kind of feeling which
said, brother, you’re in the next place
to where you’ve always said you’re
If Hank had any fears they were
well concealed. He moved along, head
up and shoulders back like he knew ex-
actly where he was going. My steps
lagged but only a few yards behind his.
We climbed the few feet to the lip of
the earthen bowl and looked about. I
know my mouth hung open and that to
anyone who might have been looking
on I played the part of an idiot very
well. At least I had company.
' I ' HE ground fell away below our
feet steeply for a distance of per-
haps a thousand feet. Below us lay a
sight to gladden the heart of any farmer.
The ground was checkerboarded in neat
patterns that sometimes were squares
and sometimes rectangles and some-
times even triangles of color. There
were trees, heavy-planted like park-
lands and we could see areas which
looked dark with luxurious growth. The
air was warm and fragrant and peace-
ful. It was a placid scene.
But only for a moment.
Immediately below us the ground was
sheer. But to either side the slope was
gradual. Suddenly there was a great
snorting chorus of animal sounds to our
right and we turned as one to see what
made them. I’ve been scared before.
But this was the first time I’d ever been
so frightened that I knew what it was
to be rooted to one spot.
Coming up at us with the speed of
express trains were some ten or fifteen
animals the likes of which I’d never
seen. They were part lizard and part
elk. There was the head of an elk
mounted on a lizard’s body. But such a
lizard as I didn’t believe existed. I
didn’t wait for Hank’s shout of warn-
ing. I had already turned and started
downward for the place we had just
quitted. But my terror rose to a fevered
pitch when I saw that there was noth-
ing there. The room or vehicle of trans-
port into this strange and terrible world
had disappeared. There was nothing
but the convulsed earth and boulders.
It wouldn’t have made any difference
anyway. These monstrous beasts were
Now there was the sounds of voices
about us, English voices; commands to
halt, shouts of anger and some of specu-
lation. Then above the others, a bull-
“Stop, fools. Stop ere we rip you
We came to a sliding stop and side
by side waited for, I guess, death. The
beasts ground to dust-clouded stops.
Then as their riders dismounted they
looked at us through their soft strangely
gentle eyes. But there was nothing
peaceful or gentle in the eyes or faces
of the men who surrounded us. Oh no!
They looked fierce and very unwel-
I essayed a grin and swallowed
hastily as the first of them came close.
Beside me Hank’s breath whistled
shrilly as he tensed in anticipation of
battle. Not that we stood any chance if
there was going to be. Not with the way
these babies were adorned.
QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD
Insofar as size was concerned they
looked no bigger than most men from
where we’d come. Nor were they any
different in facial or physical charac-
teristics, except maybe in fierceness
of looks. It was just their get-up.
They wore little helmets, serrated and
adorned with a strip of feather. Their
chests were covered by a wide strip of
metal leaving their bellies bare. They
wore gauntlets of the same metal and
their legs were also covered to some
three inches above their knees. The
metal was very flexible because it gave
as they walked. From their waists to
where the leg covering began was a
kind of link-metal skirt. It rang metal-
lically as they moved about. There was
a belt of leather about their waists.
From it hung, on one side a dagger, and
on the other a sword.
“Who are you? From whence come
you?” asked one who was evidently the
leader. He was the biggest and certainly
looked the most fierce, a scar which ran
the length of one cheek to his chin, giv-
ing him the most terrifying look.
My mouth opened and closed, opened
and closed but no sound came out. It
was Hank who took the lead:
“I am Henry Sharpe. And this is
Berkeley Livingston,” he said. “We
come from — from Chicago,” he ended
I knew how he felt. But what the
devil were we to say to those questions.
r T' HE leader of this strange troop
A mulled the words over to himself
as though they were some strange food
he was tasting. His eyes were on the
ground as he mumbled to himself. Sud-
denly they lifted and pierced us with
their fiery glance. I felt my knees turn
to water at that uncompromising stare.
I knew I was too young to die.
“Of this place from whence you come
I have no knowledge,” the big guy said.
“Perhaps Loko may have. He is all-
wise. Mount these men and let us be
off before we are discovered. We are
still a long way from home.”
Immediately his men began a tune-
less whistling at which their strange
mounts came trotting. One of them gave
me a hand and I slid up until I sat just
outside the pocket of the flat saddle
they used. Hank too was lifted to the
back of one of the elk-lizard deals and
in an instant we were off. Apd I mean
off and running. Man oh man! How
those babies could travel! They’d have
walked off with all honors at any track
in the U. S.
I don’t know exactly how long we
rode. Time had no meaning. Ourwatches
had stopped. The sun stood at the
zenith all the time. All I know is that
my back was sore, my legs were numb
and that this character behind whom
I was riding had never taken a bath in
his life. The only thing which held
meaning for me was the changes in
scenery. For perhaps a mile after we
started, the road or path or whatever
it was we followed was level and flat.
Then we came to a forest land into
which we rode with the same abandon
as before. The trees were thick and
the branches often swept low so that
I was continually ducking to stop from
being swept off my mount. This went
on for hours, it seemed. Then we were
in the open again. But the topogra-
phy had changed. The gentle slopes
were gone. This was hill country, rough
and a little frightening. We didn’t ride
directly upward but at a long slant. I
didn’t notice at first but later I did that
we always rode where there was some
sort of shelter. The open places were
avoided with assiduous care.
My fears lessened or dulled, as the
ride went on interminably, and I looked
about with more appraising glances. For
a land which held the appearances of
care there were less people about than
I would imagine there to be. Since the
sun was always at zenith, time had
little meaning, at least in the sense we
have of time. This might be the time for
sleep or dinner or lunch or breakfast
for all I knew. At least they were rea-
sons for the lack of activity in this
weird place of ever-sunlight.
Suddenly I was hungry. But I mean
hungry. It wasn’t just a gnawing feel-
ing. It was a flood of demands for food.
My rider was in the center of the troop.
Hank was up ahead somewhere not far
from the leader. I was too far back to
see the gesture which was the command
to halt but there came shouted words
“Halt! Eat. Eat ”
My rider kicked with his right heel at
the leathery side of the beast we were
riding and the monster slid to a halt.
We slid off and joined the rest. I was
stiff and sore as I found a seat beside
Hank on a grassy hummock. There was
a far-away look in his eyes and it wasn’t
one of hunger. For once my interest was
not on his thoughts or mood. I was
T GUESS I looked my disgust when
I saw the meal we were to have. It
came from saddle bags which were at-
tached to the animals we had been rid-
ing. My buddy strode up to me and
held the unappetizing piece of leathery
whatever-it-was in his hand.
“Well, bless your little,” I said.
“That’s decent of you, old man, I must
He had a half smile on his lips as he
stood there with the stuff in his hand. At
my words the smile went away, but fast,
and his free hand shot out and cuffed
me alongside the jaw.
“I am not an old man!” he said in
Now, I’m a peace-loving individual.
The sort of guy, in fact, who will not
just walk away from trouble, I’ll run
from it. Comes a tavern brawl and I’m
the first to head for under the table. In
an argument I’m the oil-spreader. So
maybe it was that I was hungry and
tired and sore. Or maybe I was guttier
than I thought. But suddenly before I
could reason I was on my feet and at
I hit him with a left and right and
another left and right, all on the puss.
Then I shot one to his belly and he
folded up like a wind-broken accordion.
A last right, this one on the button, and
he spun away for about ten feet to land
flat on his back.
It all happened pretty fast. Faster
than the telling of it. What happened
after was just as quick. Instantly, the
rest of these characters came at a run,
the big guy who was boss-man at their
head. He looked down at schmoe on the
grass looking up at the blue, with va-
cant eyes, then looked at me. There was
a puzzled glint to his eyes.
“What happened?” he asked.
I was surprised at the politeness of
“I don’t go for slapping around,” I
“No? I must tell you then,” he said
in that same polite tone, “that certain
formalities must be observed. As soon as
Hago has recovered his senses he will
ask for reprisals. It is the custom here,
“Yeah!” Hank said sharply, as only
a Sharpe can ask. “And what will those
“Edged with tips of steel of course,”
the big guy said casually.
“Hey!” Hank said angrily. “Berk
doesn’t know anything about duelling
Nor about duelling with anything else
but my mouth, I thought. Maybe we
could fight a duel that way. Of course
QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD
I hadn’t done badly with my fists . . .
The big guy shrugged his shoulders
and all the metal he carried clanked an
accompaniment. Hank brought up an-
“Besides, Berk doesn’t have the pro-
tection of armor.”
“Then it will be over quickly,” the
big goon said.
Suddenly Hank grinned. A fine time
to smile, I thought. I was going to die,
and Ray Palmer wasn’t going to get
that story after all, and all Sharpe the
sharpy can do is laugh about it. My
bosom buddy. My pal. Hank, I thought,
if ever you ask me to listen to one of
those corny jokes you like to tell, I’ll
throw Joe Miller down your throat.
“And what of Loko?” Hank asked.
“Won’t he be angry?”
The big guy stroked the scar on his
cheek. He nodded several times as
though in agreement with what Hank
had brought up. Then he too smiled and
I thought; Hank, bosom buddy, you’re
a prince. With the wit you’re fast like
a rabbit. Now why didn’t I think of
“Yes. Loko would be angry, espe-
cially if he knew there had been two of
you and I brought only one in. . . .”
B OTH Hank and I stopped smiling.
The familiar chill found its groove
and raced down my spine. I didn’t need
an interpretation of what he said. In
effect, the less Loko knew the less he
would be angry about.
The rest of the gang, with the excep-
tion of Hago, had gathered around
while the palavar had been going on.
They ringed us in with a fence of steel
for their swords were out. I looked from
face to face and found nothing in any
to give me hope of the future. I swal-
lowed the lump which formed in my
throat and wished I could be brave and
come up with the kind of quip the usual
story-book hero had in a moment like
this. Blank. That was my mind.
But not Hank’s. Oh, no. He had
things to say. I wished he hadn’t.
Seemed like every time he opened his
yap trouble came out.
“Is this how you welcome strangers?”
If nothing else the big guy liked to
chew the fat!
“Strangers are never welcome here on
Hosay. They are always troublesome.
This way our troubles, and yours, in-
cidently, will soon be over, and the path
of our lives will be smooth again.”
“We didn’t ask to come here,” Hank
That was a lie but at this point of
the game I didn’t think it made any
“No-o? Then how did you come?”
“Luria made us,” Hank said.
By all that was holy, I’d forgotten
about the gorgeous doll who had
brought us this trouble. I remembered
now and blessed her with a few choice
epithets, none of which would look nice
“Luria 1” his voice rose until it al-
most sounded feminine. “She brought
you across the void? Ho-ho! Loko will
surely want to see you. Well, Hago can
wait his vengeance for a bit. I don’t
think you will be leaving Hosay very
soon. . . . Well, we’ve spent enough time
in talk. Let us eat and be off again.”
Funny how my appetite got lost. I
took maybe two bites out of the leathery
stuff. But even though I’d lost my hun-
ger I had to admit to the tastiness of
the stuff. Then we were back in the
saddle and riding hell-bent for wherever
they were going. Whether my muscles
had grown used to the gruelling pace or
just that I’d grown numb I don’t know.
But now I didn’t feel so weary. So that
in the end when we topped a rise and
came to the valley which held the tribe
of Loko, I felt an odd sense of aware-
ness of things.
I say it was a valley. Actually it
wasn’t. But on first appearance it
seemed that. Rather to be proper it was
a plain which stretched for a vast dis-
tance and which lay between two ranges
of hills that were not quite high enough
to be called mountains. As we rode
down the shallow pass which led to the
city I speculated on the familiarity of
the place. As we got closer I knew what
the resemblance was. It looked like the
stretch of pueblos in Taos, New Mex-
ico. Of course there was the differ-
ence of soil conditions and mountain
stretches. But I’m speaking of the habi-
tations. Our coming had been noticed
long before our arrival and a great num-
ber of riders came dashing out to meet
us, all mounted on the elk-lizards.
They yelled, shouted and waved their
swords about as they closed in on our
small company. Pandemonium is a long
word, but it’s the only one which fit the
situation. We must have stretched out
for a good mile as we rode down the
long street between the pueblos until
we reached the most imposing, one that
was a good five stories high.
This one was different from the rest
in that instead of the ladder it had a
broad staircase which circled about the
entire structure. Then, while the others
waited, Hank and I, between several
guards, mounted the staiicase and pro-
ceeded upward behind the big guy who
was the leader of the troop.
A T THE fifth story we came to a
' rv broad gate. There were armed sen-
tries standing guard before it. Through
the open lattice-work of iron I could see
other men standing watch. Whoever
Loko was he liked protection. The big
guy exchanged words with the guards,
who in turn called something to those
inside and the gates swung open. There
was something ominous in the way those
huge iron things closed behind us.
Once more we went on the march. We
had come into a shallow courtyard.
Birds of brilliant plumage sang from
trees. The courtyard was circular with
several entrances to the building we had
as our goal. The center entrance was
for us. Straight for it and into the cool-
ness of a vast room where all was peace
the big guy led us. Here we came to a
halt. I looked about and wondered why
we stopped here. The room had but a
single entrance or exit, the doorway
through which we’d come. The answer
came in a few seconds.
Suddenly we started to rise, all of us.
And I knew we were on a sort of plat-
form much like that of a stage. It was
then I saw the openings high in the
walls above. There were three, quite
large. When we reached the level of
these openings the platform stopped its
ascent, and once more we stepped for-
ward. Again it was the center opening
which was our goal. This too had guards
and after the usual exchange of talk we
were allowed entry.
It was a long rectangular room in
which we found ourselves. At one end
was a dais on which was a long table.
There were six men sitting at this table.
The walls of the room to either side of
the dais held couches and seats. The
room was empty but for the men up
ahead. We were led forward until we
stopped some fifteen feet from the dais.
Then the big guy stepped forward.
“Mighty Loko,” he began. “I am
Captain Mita, in charge of the group
who went in search of the holy Groana
bird. I have come before your greatness
with a strange story . . .”
All the while I’d been giving this
Loko character the once-over. I didn’t
know he was Loko until Mita called him
by name. But he was the sort of person
you give a second and even a third
QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD
glance. The trouble was I didn’t look
at the rest. Not until Hank nudged me
and whispered from the side of his
“The women! Look at them.”
It was small wonder that I hadn’t
noticed them. As I said, I thought there
were six men up there in front of us.
They were all dressed alike except
Loko. Their uniforms were much like
Mita’s except they were more elaborate
with jewels sending showers of vari-
colored lights at us. Then I saw the
breastplates and realized for the first
time that of the six people up there four
The fifth was a giant of a man, easily,
even though he was seated, better than
seven feet tall. The sixth was Loko. He
was dressed in a toga-like gown which
fell in a straight line from his thin wrin-
kled neck to his feet. From the center of
the toga straight down the center was a
line of color demarcation. One side of
the robe was a bright purple, the other
a deep green. Then Loko started to talk,
and I forgot all else:
“Who are these two? From whence
come they? And how did you come upon
/"'iAPTAIN MITA related how he
found us. All went well until he
mentioned Luria. I thought they’d leap
down our collective throats so great was
their excitement. All but Loko. His lean
face didn’t show a muscle change and
his eyes peered narrowly down at us
as though their piercing glance could
read what lay beneath the flesh and
bone of our foreheads. Their voices rose
in shrill cacophony, the gist of which
was we ought to be put to death imme-
diately. Suddenly Loko raised a thin
arm which shook slightly.
“Peace! This chattering, as though
you were but birds in the courtyard to
whom had been cast seed. Peace, I say!
“Are your minds so dulled by the
games of war that they see only what
lies on the surface? Look ye well on
these strangers. Do they have the look
of any men we know? They have not
spoken their minds yet but I’ll warrant
their speech is foreign as their attire.
They knew not of swordplay. One used
his fists as a weapon. But all this non-
observance can be forgiven. It is in the
misconstruing of the fact they knew
Luria that I speak. Let me assure ye
they are accidental arrivals here on
Pola. There are some things which are
as open pages to us. But the art of trans-
posing humans from one plane of time
to another is the closed page which not
one of us can open, for we have not the
key. Not even Luria, the all-wise
“Oman, the father of Luria, was the
wisest man who ever lived. The small
knowledge I have was gained at his
knee. But even he, with all the secrets
of the ancients at his mind’s disposal
could not do that. I do not say that she,
in some fashion known only to her, was
able to bring them across the great void
between the land of the eternal mists,
from the place from whence they came
to Pola. But only these two came.
“I do not know who they are or why
they were brought here, but look ye well
on them. Can ye see the smallest sign
in them which would bring harm to us
or disturb the smallest detail of our
The old character was right. We were
a couple of harmless schmoes. As far as
I was concerned I had had my fill of this
place. All I wanted was to be put back
on that black cloud and taken back to
that place, ‘from whence we’d come.’
“However,” he went on, “it would be
of great interest to us to find how, where
and when Luria managed all this. Shall
we ask them?”
Mita’s boys acted too fast for us to
do anything about it. They were well-
trained. Loko had barely finished talk-
ing and our arms were pinioned behind
our backs. I started to struggle but gave
up as the guard’s arms tightened about
me. Yet a strange fact registered at the
back of my mind, a fact I was going to
put to use later, I knew. This guy hold-
ing my arms behind me was straining
all his muscles in the effort and yet if I
wanted to I could have quite easily
broken his grip.
The guy who had been sitting beside
Loko was better than seven feet tall.
The instant we became helpless the five
of them left their companion on the dais
and swarmed about us.
“So they like to use the fist, eh?” he
had a bellow like a bull. He stood sprad-
dle-legged in front of us, his arms
akimbo. He threw his head back and
let out a roar of laughter. The sound
echoed around the huge room. I had to
strain to look up at him, he was that
“Sure,’-’ I said. “What’s more, I’d use
them on you too, you big schmoe. . . .”
J-J E THREW a punch at me that was
telegraphed like a slow freight
through Missouri. I ducked just as it
arrived. Only I forgot about the guy
behind me. I ducked backward and my
head cracked against his face and came
forward in a rebound, smack into that
ham-like fist. I won’t say it felt like be-
ing hit by a pillow. On the other hand
I’ve been hit a lot harder, a heck of a
lot. I shook my head clear and grinned
up at the no-longer smiling face.
“Better try again,” I said. “That I
can take all day.”
Me and my big yap. Boy, did I take
the lumps! He hit me with everything
but that meat cleaver he carried at his
side and he’d have probably used that
except he was that mad. I was covered
with blood, mine, and he was covered
with glory, when he got through. At
least it sounded like an ovation he got.
I staggered to my feet and looked to
where Hank was.
He had that beefy look around his
jawbones too. It was the first time either
of us had been jumped by a gang of
women. I guess Hank was thankful this
was one world where women didn’t have
the pregorative of scratching. He’d of
been a lot bloodier than he was. On the
other hand it isn’t the most pleasant
thing to have women pounding lumps on
But though his head was bloodied it
wasn’t bowed. He winked at me. I
thought it looked like a wink. Of course
with all that swelling around his eyes it
could have been something else. I
grinned back at him and the two of them
turned to face the gang that had jumped
us. They were standing together just in
front of the dais. Evidently they’d been
talking to the old goat they’d left at the
“I see,” Loko said, “your planet
breeds stubborn men. A pity. Because
we have the means to undo those stub-
born tongues. I would very much dislike
causing any additional suffering. Un-
less, of course, you force my hand. . . .”
“Perhaps,” Hank managed to get out
between his puffed lips, “if we knew ex-
actly what you wanted, we might co-
Loko repeated the sixty-four dollar
question again. The others gave us dirty
looks and shoved their fists down to the
hardware at their belts. But I was more
interested in Hank. He had that
thoughtful look on his face. It was kind
of hard to figure what the look he had
was due to the swelling. I just guessed.
“Okay! ” Hank said in decisive tones.
“It was like this. . .
T OKO’S fingers sounded a tatoo on
the table-top. He chewed his upper
QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD
lip with his lower for a few seconds,
then said :
“It has the ring of truth, this tale you
tell. Enough to warrant a surety that
in the tale is a greater part of it. I know
that Oman, Luria’s father, was in-
terested in the transmigration of bodies
from one sphere to another, though I
didn’t know he had gone so far. But the
fact remains that it was an experiment,
otherwise she would have met you two.
Still, as things stand, perhaps she was
busied in other matters. . . .?”
One of the dames had cackled in
laughter at the words. Her laugh was
stilled at the look the old guy shot her.
Yet it seemed to me that there wasn’t
anything in those mild old eyes to make
me shut up that way.
“In any event, I think we had better
place you in safe custody for the while.
Captain Mita . . .”
“Have these men placed in the cage
on the topmost tier. And I shall expect
a vigilant guard to be put over them.
They are bait for the beautiful Luria.”
I got it then. It was too late to do
anything about it, of course. Because
even as I turned to give battle, one of
the boys behind me jabbed my spine
with his steel tickler, and I turned yel-
low like a dandelion in the spring. I was
going to be a live coward.
“Okay, wise guy,” I said. “You win.
As for you, you big schmoe,” this to
the lug who had taken his picks on me,
“some day you and I’ll meet under bet-
ter auspices and then . . .”
* * *
The gate clanged shut behind us. I
stepped over to the pallet in the corner
and sat on the straw. Hank stayed close
to the bars, his back to me.
“Might as well take it easy, Hank,” I
said. “This looks like the kind of place
that’s going to grow on us. We might as
well take it easy, like I say. We might
be here a long time.”
“Y’know,” Hank said, “something
funny happened down there. When that
guard grabbed me and held my arms be-
hind me, I felt as though all I had to do
was twist and he’d go flying.”
I sat straighter. Hank too. ... I
winced as I grinned in reply to some-
thing which had occurred too. Maybe
the big guy hadn’t knocked me cold but
he sure had damaged me a bit.
“And that does us good here,” I said.
“No. Nor did it do any good down
there, either. Those stickers they had,
carried more weight than our fists. It’s
just something we ought to keep in
mind. Of course, the thing to remember
now is that Luria knows we’re here. . . .”
“She does?” I guess my voice was a
bit on the sarcastic side. He turned like
a shot and stepped to my side. I didn’t
like the look in his eyes.
“Listen! And get this straight!” he
snapped. “I don’t want any wrong
cracks about that girl. . . .”
I laughed and waved my hands in a
gesture of good-will. “Just talking,
Hank,” I said.
His fingers waved a pattern in front
of my eyes:
“So stop talking and listen. She said
she’d see us here. And not to worry.”
“Not to worry, eh? Well, that’s good
to know. So what are we supposed to
do while we’re here, count the straws
on the bed?”
“I don’t know. She just said not to
worry. That she’d get to us.”
T GRUNTED something in disgust
A and stretched out on the straw. It
got under my shirt collar, into my trou-
sers, my ears and even in my socks. I
thought, if she were going to get here,
to do it soon. A little more of this and
I’ll go wacky. After a bit Hank got
tired of supporting the bars and came
down to sit by my side. He hummed a
snatch of a popular tune. It was his way
of being deep in thought. Me, I was also
deep in thought, thought of a steak at
I’m a bit deaf in one ear and after
listening to that tuneless humming of
Hank’s for a while I turned my good
ear to the straw and faced the wall. The
masonry wasn’t in too good a condi-
tion. In fact it was cracked and flakes
of grey stuff lay like dandruff on the
surface of the wall. I began to peel some
of the stuff. It peeled like wallpaper,
and like wallpaper, some of it stuck.
I yanked at it, then in anger punched
at it. My fist almost went through the
I yelped in pain and Hank turned
to see what had happened. One look and
he was crawling to my side.
“Hey,” he whispered in excitement.
“I don’t know,” I whispered in re-
turn. “But this stuff’s about as strong
as oatmeal mush. Have a crack at it
but first put your hanky around your
As I said before, Hank, though a
small man, had the muscles and hands
of a carpenter. When he slammed his
wrapped fist into that masonry some-
thing gave and it wasn’t his hand. That
simply disappeared into the wall almost
to his elbow. I knelt on the bed behind
him, grabbed him about the middle and
yanked backward. We fell off the bed
as the hand came out of the wall faster
than we thought.
“My God!” Hank said in disgust as
he stared at the hole in the wall. “Are
we dopes. There’s a ram we could have
used and we go around bustin’
I knew what he meant. The bed. It
had a metal frame. In a few seconds
the bed was apart. We used the long
metal sides as rams. It wasn’t more than
a couple of seconds later that light
streamed through the twin holes we
made in the wall. What surprised me
was that no one had heard us with all
the racket we were making. But I cer-
tainly didn’t care. Dust and bits of stone
fell about us in a grey shower as we
widened the holes into one large hole. It
was big enough after a few moments
for the both of us to crawl through
side by side. So we did.
We came out on a sort of balcony.
Since the building was circular the bal-
cony was also circular. There was a
ledge perhaps a couple of feet high act-
ing as a break against the straight drop.
I peered downward and saw that there
was no escape that way. And we had to
escape. Because the instant we were
through, the patrons of this bastille be-
gan a caterwauling of sound that should
have awakened the dead. Only it wasn’t
the dead we were worrying about.
“Up! The roof. It’s our only chance,”
Hank shouted and started up the sill
of the prison we’d just quitted.
The wall, I saw then, was not flat or
smooth. There were serrations and
rough spots which were deep in the
stone. One didn’t have to be an acrobat
to ascend but it would have helped.
Then we were on the roof.
As far as I could see we hadn’t got-
ten anywhere except up. But Hank had
other thoughts. He started at a run for
the far end away from the center. I
followed. What else was there to do? I
saw when we got there why he had
headed for it. As I said in the beginning,
the buildings were constructed like
pueblos. We were looking down at a set-
back that was only a half-story below
us. Hank, being an artist, had formed
a picture of what the interior had to be
like from what he saw of the exterior.
It was a long jump but we didn’t hesi-
tate a second. I landed in a heap beside
Instantly we were up and heading for
QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD
the next set-back. We knew the alarm
would not be long in sounding.
We made the second; three more to
go, I thought, as we raced for the third.
This time we didn’t quite make it. There
were many openings on this level. And
as we started for the jump-off place,
men began to pour from these openings.
We ran like scared rabbits, but they had
the speed of deer. There were some
twenty or thirty waiting for us at the
We slowed to a walk, then to a stop.
As usual their stickers were facing our
“gO,” LOKO said in wearied tones.
“You are strong men. Prisons do
not hold ye. Then we shall have to
throw ye into a something which will. I
did not want to do what I am going to
unless my hand was forced. Ye have
forced it. Throw them into the pit. . . .”
There were a heck of a lot more
guards this time than before. Our march
to this pit Loko spoke of was a regular
processional. The whole blame'd village
turned out to see us, men, women and
children. I noticed that the tribe was a
tribe of warriors. All, men, women and
children, bore arms. They, were neither
gentle in appearance or manners. We re-
ceived the physical manifestations of a
Bronx cheer in the parade to the pit. I
learned there were many strange and ill-
smelling vegetables on Pola. Some of the
kids threw like a Blackwell and with a
bit better aim.
The guards thought it was good fun
until several of them got caught in the
kisser by some bad throws. Then they
shagged the kids. By that time we’d
reached the end of the pueblo city. The
way led up and down hill for several
miles. Toward the end of our journey
there were just a few of the villagers
left, all women. I got a very strong im-
pression that the women were far more
savage than the men. There was some-
thing so frightening in their bright
looks, as if they would just as soon have
our ends over with on the spot.
We reached our goal at last. I know
I breathed a sigh of relief. Whatever
we had to face in the pit would not be
as frightening as those women. Of
course I hadn’t seen the pit. I was to
It was a strange pit. For it was lo-
cated on a high, or a sort of earthen,
tower which stuck up like a lonely fin-
ger on the bosom of the plain. A long
series of steps wound around the tor
to the very top. We were forced to walk
ahead, the prodding swords acting as
an incentive. At the top we found an-
other series of steps, these leading
downward from a platform on the top.
I hadn’t too much time to observe but
in the few seconds I noticed that the
top of the tor had been leveled flat so
that a great many people could be ac-
commodated on the surface.
As Hank and I wound our way down
the face of the tor we noticed that cir-
cular opening had been cut into the
face of the tor. Our way led evenly be-
tween these openings. I became aware
of strange odors, bitter-sweet, an acrid
stench which turned my stomach the
more I got a whiff of them. We could
see before we passed them, that these
openings had bars before them. Odd
muffled sounds were heard. Once we
were startled out of our wits by a roar-
ing sound, which, if it did come from
an animal, must have been the largest
beast in any world. It made a lion’s roar
sound like Mickey Mouse’s squeak.
Going up we were close to the face
and going down we were too busy in
the descent. But once we reached the
bottom and looked upward we saw how
far we were from the top. The blasted
thing looked miles away. There were fly
specks on the platform way up there.
We saw them busying themselves at
something. And suddenly there was a
vast clattering sound and the stair down
which we’d come, reversed itself. One
problem was answered. If we were to
escape, it would not be by way of that
“Shall we dance?” Hank asked.
“Yeah,” I said, looking about me.
“To the Dance Macabre.”
LI E SAW what I meant. The floor of
the huge circular pit was covered
by innumerable stains. One glance was
enough to tell us only blood left that
particular stain. As if that wasn’t
enough the whitened bones of hundreds
of humans were scattered about. Many
a party had been thrown by the lads
and lassies of Loko’s menage.
“D’ja notice,” Hank asked, “that al-
though the sun hasn’t stopped shining
for a single second we haven’t felt any
“What’s more peculiar,” I reminded
him, “is that we have no desire for sleep.
I’m speaking for me of course.”
“Right. And I’m not hungry either.”
“Let’s hope the zoo isn’t hungry,” I
“Could be, Berk,” he said after a
moment’s silence, “we won’t get out of
“Speaking of zoos,” I said, “wonder
how our friend Mokar and his mistress
are making out?”
The funniest expression came into
Hank’s eyes. As though he’d been
clipped by a phantom punch. They
looked dazed. Words stumbled their
way past his lips:
“Yes ... I hear . . . We will . . .
obey. . . ”
I got scared and shook the guy. That’s
all we needed was for Hank to get
screwy on me. Things were bad enough.
He came out of it okay. In fact he
grinned quite like his normal self.
“What happened? Another seance
with Luria?” I asked.
“Yes. Come on. We’ve got to get to
the center of the arena. Loko wants us
out of the way. His boys will be here
Soon, it turned out, was that very
moment. They must have been right on
our heels. Suddenly the platform above
was black with people. It was impos-
sible to make out the figures of any.
“Yipe!” Hank howled. “Look!”
His quivering finger was pointing up
toward the face of the tor. A huge some-
thing was clinging to the sheer wall just
below one of the openings. Slowly it be-
gan to crawl downward. There was
something horrible in that sluggishly
moving shape. It moved with infinite
care yet with a surety that was startling
for so large a thing. As it neared the
pit we saw it more clearly. I’ve always
wondered what it meant for blood to run
cold. I knew then.
It was something from out of a night-
mare. To a child versed in the fairy tales
it was a dragon. To me, it was a prehis-
toric beast. It had a great triangular
head and a massive body which was
scaled from the head to the long tail.
Wisps of smoke trailed from its nostrils.
I crowded close to Hank as though in
mutual protection. And he in turn be-
gan a slow retreat to the point farthest
from where the beast would land.
God! It must have stretched a good
fifty feet. The great head split and from
the many-rowed teeth came a terrible
stench. A roar split the silence of the
pit as it shook its head from side to side.
Then it saw us and began a cumbrous
movement in our direction. We kept re-
treating until our backs were against
the granite of the wall. It followed re-
“You run one way,” Hank breathed
heavily. “I’ll run the other.”
Perhaps the beast had been used to
QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD
easier prey. For as we split up and ran
for the opposite wall, it stood still, its
head moving from side to side as if in
wonderment at our sudden disappear-
ance. When it finally did move it was
with express train speed, the murderous
tail swishing about in a vicious swing.
NCE more we faced it together, but
this time from the opposite wall.
We knew, however, that the respite we
had gained was small. No matter how
many times we ran from it, we had no
place to go except in a circle. And soon
or late, we would have to stop from
sheer exhaustion. Then . . .
Once more it lumbered toward us.
And again we broke for the other wall.
We were breathing a bit heavily as we
faced the beast again. The faint echo of
shrieking voices reached our ears and
we involuntarily looked upward. We
groaned in unison when we saw the rea-
son for the shouting. They had let an-
other of the horrors at us. We could see
the huge body crawling down the gran-
“Run, Berk!” a voice screamed in
We had forgotten the beast. As we
had looked upward it had moved for-
ward, Hank spotting it first. He leaped
to safety, but I wasn’t that lucky. The
very tip of the tail caught me as I tried
to leap to one side and sent me sprawl-
ing. I said the beast had the speed of a
train when it moved. I was barely on
my feet when it was on me.
I had fallen close by a pile of bones.
Stooping, I picked a thigh bone from
the pile. And swinging it like a bat, I
let the thing have it right across its ugly
fire-spitting snout. Surely there was no
hope or reason for my act. But I wasn’t
going to go down without at least one
blow in my defense, no matter how puny
I could only stare, open-mouthed, as
the beast snorted loudly and retreated
from me. With a wild yell spouting from
my lips I followed it, belaboring it
across the snout with my bone-bat.
Hank, seeing what was taking place,
came to my assistance. We were laugh-
ing, I guess in hysteria, at the way
things were going, when it happened.
We had forgotten that damned tail.
One sudden swish and we were both
knocked from our feet. And this time
there were two of them at us. The sec-
ond had arrived to the festive board.
Their mouths were big enough to take
us in at a single gulp. I had time for
one prayer, as I tried to gain my feet.
I swear their teeth were inches away
when that terrific wind came up. My
senses started to reel. I couldn’t move
a muscle, not even an eyelid. There was
this wind, and this black cloud that
came from nowhere. My ears rang with
a shout . . . “LURIA.” And blackness
enfolded me in a comforting blanket.
T> ERK! Berk! ”
Wind was sweeping past me in
a constant wave. It cooled my sweaty
brow. There was a strange up-and-down
movement. I opened my eyes — and
grabbed tightly at what lay beneath
“You okay, kid?” Hank asked.
He was directly ahead of me, in fact
so close we were twins on Mokar’s back.
Hank’s right arm was about Luria’s
waist. She had saved us from the very
mouths of our doom. I didn’t care how
she did it nor was I interested. In fact
I didn’t have time to worry about the
fact that we were riding on the back of
a panther. I only knew I was alive. It
was enough for me.
But after a few moments of this
pounding run I began to sit up and take
notice. For one thing, Mokar was run-
ning so smoothly, in such marvelous
bounds, that the action was slick as oil.
I swung the bone over my shoulder a* the
beast thundered down upon us, and I knew
that there was only one spot to aim at . . .
For another thing the surroundings were
exotic in the extreme.
We were in the midst of jungleland.
The trees were magnificent in their
height and variety. Birds of brilliant-
colored plumage sang from bush and
branch. The air was invigorating and
surprisingly free of humidity. Mokar
was sure-footed. His lithe shape never
disturbed a single branch as he moved
along an invisible trail. Luria sat high
up on his body close to the muscled
shoulders. She was clothed in the same
sort of costume I saw on the warrior
women by Loko’s side. A slender,
needle-tipped spear was couched along
one elbow. She looked straight ahead.
The jungle ended abruptly and we
entered a grassy plain set in gently roll-
ing hills. Mokar’s pace never slackened
though our weight must have been con-
siderable even for him. The miles flew
by in endless procession. Then with a
suddenness that took my breath away,
while we were in the midst of what
looked like bundles of straw, hundreds
of shapes came to life.
The bundles of what I thought had
been straw, were humans. And not a
single one of them was a man. I didn't
hear Luria give voice to any command,
yet Mokar slowed his pace and after a
very short while stopped running al-
together. Luria slid from his back and
Hank and I followed, although more
gingerly. In an instant we were sur-
rounded by the hundreds of chattering
women. They're the same all over, the
QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD
instant you give them a chance to yat-
tete, they start full blast.
I’ll say this for Luria. She didn’t give
them too much opportunity to work
their jaws on talk. Her arm with the
spear held high shot up and silence fell
among the warrior-women. As they
gathered close I looked them over.
There were short ones, tall ones, slim
ones and fat ones, beauties and ugly
ones, calm ones and those whose eyes
looked fierce enough to frighten Boris
Karloff. In other words, they looked no
different than those on the planet we’d
quitted what seemed like years before.
"VTOT all were giving Luria attention.
’ There were some who stole glances
at us. There was one in particular. She
was rather tall, certainly taller than I,
whose hair was the color of molten gold,
whose eyes were sapphires swimming
in a sea of pearl. Her bosom rose high
and well-formed in the breastplate she
wore. And as she saw my admiring
glance her breath quickened and her
face flushed. I made a mental note that
if the time ever came for talk, I’d for-
Luria nodded for us to step to her
side. Then, as the others faced us, Luria
began to talk:
“These are the ones I promised to
bring. The secret my father, the great
Oman, taught me has been put to use.
But as he warned, I could not bring
other than their bodies. More, I could
not foresee the place of their arrival.
“So misfortune came to them. One of
Loko’s bands found them before I could
reach them, and brought them before
the tyrant. Warriors! Loko threw them
into the pit. . .
A gasp of horror went up at the
“Yes,” Luria went on. “Into the pit.
Strangers on the planet of Pola. Loko
violated again the holiest words of my
father. Oh, that he were alive. . .
“Mighty Oman, may his soul leave
the place of its abode and help us,” the
women intoned solemnly.
Hank and I kept stealing puzzled
glances at each other. But our curiosity
had to contain itself. We knew that a
lot of answers would soon be given.
. . His thousand years of reign
brought Pola a great peace after the
tens of thousands of years of wars. Now
Loko has it in mind to break that peace.
He has even enlisted the aid of
men. . .
This time the women’s voices rose
in a vast shout of anger. And once more
Luria went on:
. . Aye! Men like Hostal, and
Mita and others of his ilk. That was
why I went out of our time and place
into another. To bring back the sex
which once ruled. Our men have grown
soft to the ways of war. They have
grown soft because the years have made
them that way. Look at the weapons of
our fighting. Swords, spears and knives.
But we are fortunate. Loko and his min-
ions have no choice in this matter. We
must prevent Loko and his from gain-
ing the upper hand. Else we all become
slaves to his will. . . .”
It was all going in one ear and out
the other. But not Hank. He got it right
away. I was just in time to see the heat
of anger come to his eyes and face, but
not in time to stop him. Whirling swift-
ly, he puled Luria about until she was
“So that’s why you brought me here?
As a guinea pig! As a symbol for these
Lysystratas of yours. . .
Luria didn’t take his fingers from her
wrist. Instead, she motioned for the
other dames to halt; at the very touch
of Hank’s fingers, swords flashed in the
bright sunlight and bodies tensed.
“Did you think it was because of your
manly beauty?” she asked. “Or because
of your charm?”
Hank’s fingers fell away from her
wrist. The flush of anger still lighted
his lean long face. But there was a tinge
of frustration in his eyes. Perhaps he
had assumed it might have been because
of some such reasons.
“I brought you here, you and this
ugly wart of a man whom you call
friend, because you were the vessel in
which the fluid of my father’s wisdom
coagulated. Only you heard the call.
And because this Berk was your friend
did I allow him with you. . . .”
“Okay, babe,” Hank said evenly.
“You called, we answered. Now I don’t
like the set-up. So suppose you send us
right back to the place you got us
“You pout prettily,” Luria said.
“How like must this Earth be to our
planet. Here, too, the men pout if we
do not give them their way.”
| DAMNED her and could have
kicked Hank. He kept opening his
yap and she kept putting her foot in it.
“Yes,” I said. “We have all the man-
ners of men. But I gather you are not
too well-acquainted with all the ways.
Perhaps it’s in the cards that you’re
going to learn.”
“Aah! He gives a twist to words and
has no fear that they will rebound to
confound him,” Luria said, turning her
attention to me.
I didn’t care. There wasn’t a dame
alive on this or any planet I couldn’t
QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD
argue with or against.
“Yep. I have no fear. Only in your
tears do you have immunity. . .
“Tears! Do you take me for a man?”
I gave her a slow up-and-down. This
time it was she who burned bright red.
I knew my look was an insult. I’d al-
ready figured the score. If we were play-
ing Lysystrata then the boy friends and
husbands of these Amazons were weak-
“Not the way you stack up, kid,” I
I guess it was insult direct. Only the
answer to it came from an unexpected
corner. My head rocked from a blow
and I staggered a bit before I recovered
my balance. When my head cleared I
saw it was the luscious dish whom I’d
been admiring who stood facing me.
“It is not meet that our leader, whose
toes you are too low to touch, should
deal you the punishment you deserve.
But I, who am the smallest of her serv-
ants, can. . . .”
These babes sure could yell. All they
needed was one of their number to open
up and they were ready with the howl-
ing. I looked at Luria who had a half-
grin on her lips.
“Teach the little toad a lesson,” Luria
“Hey!” I called in protest as an im-
mense circle formed about us. “I can’t
hit a woman.”
And once more my head rocked as she
planted one right on the jawbone. Well,
woman or no, she wasn’t playing for
fun. I stepped back, danced around a
bit to loosen up my leg muscles, put
up my dukes and, whammm! Something
hit me with the force of a mule’s kick.
“Berk,” a voice called from a long
distance off. “Get up. Don’t let her look
like a champ. . . .”
There were ten suns up there, and a
million women at least. Then my head
cleared and there was that beautiful pan
looking down at me. I motioned for her
to step back and got to my feet.
“Okay, kiddo,” I said, snuffling the
claret back up my nostrils. “You asked
for it. Come and get it.”
Then bing, bing, bing, faster than the
telling takes, she let me have it.
Gosh, I thought. They got the sweet-
est-singing birds out here. And angels,
too. My, what a place. Just like heaven.
And once more that voice called me. I
was beginning to dislike Mister Sharpe.
Why didn’t he take a couple of lumps?
Was I supposed to take them all?
The birds I thought I heard was the
strident sound of all those bags yelling,
and the angels’ faces were not so an-
gelic, once my vision cleared. My knees
were on the wobbly side. My glamour-
puss could hit like Louis. I assayed a
grin but yipped in pain instead.
“Enough?” the dear girl asked.
J SHOOK my head. I’m a stubborn
dope in some ways. But the memorp
of the giant who’d taken his picks on
me had come to mind and suddenly I
wanted to haul off at something.
I motioned her forward with beckon-
ing fingers. This time I got there just.
Instead of hitting with my right, I
closed the beckoning fingers of my left
hand and jabbed her right on the point
of her stubborn chin. Her head went
back and my right came over, but with
all I had on it. There was a sharp
crack! And baby went sailing through
the air to land on a pillow of grass some
fifteen feet from where we were bat-
They proved they were the opposite
sex, then. Their voices rose like ban-
shees on the prowl and with a single
concerted howl they made for me. Nor
were they joking. They had those three-
feet long stickers out and aimed right
for Hank and myself. Again Luria
“Halt! Are we men that we attack
like animals? Besides, Lovah has not
I cursed the day I’d ever seen this
woman, the day I’d ever met Henry
Sharpe, and most of all the day I went
to the zoo with him. Now I was on a
spot. This Lovah could just be that
stubborn as not to give up easily.
Several of the gals had gone to Lo-
vah’s assistance. The kid was on the
wobbly side as they brought her for-
ward. My punch had raised a lump on
the side of her jaw. And her eyes didn’t
quite have that superior look as she
tried to look into mine.
“Better take it easy, kid,” I said,
picking my words carefully. “There’s
no sense in beating each other silly.
You’re far too pretty to get messed
I guess it was the first time anyone
had called her pretty. Though why not
was a mystery to me. She could make
my breakfast any morning of the week.
Her left hand came up and caressed
the swelling and her eyes became a lot
more natural, and something of specu-
lation showed in the deep blue. I held
my breath, waiting for her answer. I
blew it out in a deep sigh when she
“Enough ... for the while,” Lovah
Only Luria was smart enough to get
the game I’d played.
“You are clever with words,” she
said, and this time there was no scorn
in her voice. “Well, call your mounts.
Enough time has been wasted. . .
It was a command which was in-
stantly obeyed. A tuneless whistling
went up and like black demons called
from their pits, hundreds of black pan-
thers, much like Mokar in appearance,
though none so large, rose, as though
from the very ground. They loped for-
ward and the women mounted them.
Lovah gestured for me to step to her
side. I did and she motioned for me to
mount behind her. Then at a signal from
Luria, who had again taken Hank be-
hind her, we were off.
“Say, beautiful,” I said as we started,
“you got a wallop. What’s more you got
a whole lot more that appeals to
me. . .
She turned and looked deeply into
my eyes. Her face became oddly soft,
then, with the speed of light, it changed
and as she drove her elbow into my
belly, knocking the wind from me, she
“You got a wallop, too. . .
A T FIRST I thought it was suburbia.
At least a real-estate agent’s dream
development. They called it Gayno, but
it could have been the community of El
Rancho Grande, for all of me. It was a
community of well-laid-out homes, all
single-storied, with the most modern
architectural designs; sloping roofs,
glass walls, patios and terraces to take
advantage of shade and sun gave it the
House Beautiful look.
When we were still several hundred
yards from the village of homes the
women lifted their voices in a sort of
musical chant. It was the first I knew
their voices could be soft and charm-
ingly feminine. Then as we swept into
the level grass-filled width of street a
host of men and children came from the
houses and followed us to one set apart
from the rest. Luria, in the lead, drew
Mokar up to the shallow series of steps
leading to the door of the house, and
dismounted. Lovah kicked her panther
beside Mokar and with a well-placed
blow of her elbow, knocked me from
the animal. As she wheeled him around,
she turned her face to me and winked
I sighed deeply and got to my feet
and walked to the side of Hank and the
QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD
girl. I had an idea that this Lovah baby
wasn’t too displeased with me.
“Well, come in,” Luria said.
The other women scattered as we fol-
lowed the girl into the house. If I
thought the exteriors of the homes
looked like something out of House
Beautiful, the interiors took my breath
away. Wow! Two-level interiors with
an incline leading to a combination din-
ing and living room on the second story.
The first floor had four walls of colored
glass which softened the sun’s rays and
gave them a subdued and marvelous
brilliance which somehow did not hurt
the eyes. There was a wondrous air of
peace and serenity in this house.
Luria slumped wearily into a deep-
piled chair after throwing off her belt
and helmet. There were a couple of
sofas facing each other across a gigantic
coffee table. Hank and I sat side by side
on one, so that we were in profile to
the girl. To our left was a raised fire-
place of colored stones. Above it, on
the mantle, were some statuary, primi-
tives, from the looks of them. At sight
of them, Hank arose and examined them
“Say! These are truly wonderful.
Who was the carver?”
“One of my servants,” Luria said in
answer. But her mind was elsewhere.
She shook her head after a second or
so, looked up to Hank and said, “Care
for a beverage?”
“Sure,” I said. “Make mine Scotch
Hank was still deep in study of the
small statue. He turned and said:
“Servant? Why that’scriminal ! Some-
one with a positive talent for creative
work, someone with the ability of this
person whoever he may be, should cer-
tainly not be a servant!”
“Sit down,” Luria said. It wasn’t said
in anger but rather in an almost suppli-
TT ANK sat deep in a corner of the
A wide sofa. To my surprise she
walked around the arm of the sofa, past
the coffee table and faced us. She
studied us for a second, then spoke:
“You are strangers here, in a strange
land, among strange people who have
strange customs. I don’t have any
doubts but that you will both have to
spend the rest of your natural lives
here. My father discovered the secret
of transmigration of bodies. But it is
still a mystery to me how he returned
“Therefore I beg of both of you to
take what I have to say to heart. There
should be a beginning, I know. But that
beginning goes back into an antiquity
greater and more distant than any you
know. I saw a something in your eyes
the instant you entered my home. I
think I interpreted it correctly. You
both marveled that you should find
something approximating your own civ-
ilized world, after a visit to the world
“Then let me start from there. For
it is in that you might best understand.
Here, you have a ready comparison.
This land of Gayno and Loko’s world.
Further, when my father lived, there
were better worlds, finer cities, greater
cultures. But death came to him as it
must come to all and though he lived
to be eleven hundred and sixty-four
years. . . .”
I couldn’t help it. Eleven hundred
and sixty-four years! I grunted an un-
intelligible something. She caught on
“Unbelievable, isn’t it? That one can
live so many years?’ she asked.
Hank got the connotation of her re-
mark before I did. He squinted at her
“And I suppose you’re in your . . .?”
“I am nine hundred and twenty-four
years old,” she said.
“Pretty well-preserved for your age,
I’d say,” I said.
“Lovah is almost a thousand years
old,” she said.
I thought that was nasty of her. But
it was like a woman. I grinned weakly.
“Touchfi,” I said.
“Let’s get back to your father,” Hank
“Very well,” she replied. “In the last
forty years of my father’s reign, a small
border clash became a conflagration
which set all of Pola aflame. He did not
know it at the time, but there were some
who were envious of his power. They
plotted his downfall and overcame his
legions. It turned into a war of utter
annihilation. When it was over, there
was nothing left of culture, civilization,
or people. Here and there were scat-
tered the fragments of humanity.
“They went back to living as they
had done thousands of years ago. They
had to do this because my father in his
great wisdom, realizing the finality of
the battle, doomed the terror weapons
of the time and erased their marks for-
ever. We, the offspring of that terrible
time, had only the means you see of
waging war, a sword, a spear and a
“So we had to make the best of
things. For my people I chose the stand-
ard of living which best suited our time.
I utilized the forms of home architec-
ture which because of the constant sun-
light would be most suitable. But, as I
said before, we were scattered over the
entire face of Pola. Loko, who was the
ringleader and the only one of the Inner
Council to survive the war, went back
even further in antiquity for the plans
of his community. But he wasn’t inter-
ested in how his people lived. He still
had it in mind and to this day is ob-
sessed, by his overweening desire to be
the ruler of the planet of Pola. . . .”
CHE paused for a breath. And in that
^ moment I thought, baby, you got a
right to tell some one else they’re clever
with words. You don’t have to take a
back seat to anybody when it comes to
making with the lip.
“Aside from the physical manifesta-
tions of what transpired with Berk and
myself,” Hank spoke up like a good
scientist, “there are certain questions
which are bothering me. I would appre-
ciate it very much if an answer were
“Now then, I believe I am assuming
correctly, when I say that Pola and the
planet from which we have come are
existing in the same spheres of time and
place . . .?”
Oh boy, I thought. Good old Sharpe!
Now he’s going to make like he knows
what he’s talking about. Of course Hank
always had a sharp mind, if I’m allowed
a pun. He was proving it now.
Luria answered the question in the
seconds I was in thought:
“That is right.”
“Well,” Hank said in a speculative
tone, “that proved a theory which some
men have always held. Now another
question. How is it you speak, in fact
all the people we have met speak, our
Luria smiled and arose and walked
to a near wall. A heavy ribbon-like cord
hung against the wall. She puled at it
and from somewhere in the house a
bell sounded in answer to the bell-pull.
She came back to the sofa and snuggled
up in a corner.
“The tongue we speak is universal on
Pola,” she said. The instant you landed
you too, spoke our tongue.”
It wasn’t a satisfactory answer but I
supposed it had to do. Hank wasn’t
“That doesn’t make sense. Try this;
what is the Groana bird and why is it
QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD
We had to wait for the answer to that.
A husky, masculine voice said:
“Greatness . . . You rang?”
We turned and there was a man who
wearing a sort of lavalava for a cos-
tume. His hairy chest was bare as were
his legs. Muscles rippled along the
shoulders and arms and as he bent his
legs knotted with muscles. He was close
to six feet in height.
“Yes, Hioa,” Luria said. “My guests
are thirsty. . .
He shook his head and as silently as
he had come, left.
“All your men, servants?” Hank
She nodded. “If not so in fact, in
theory,” she replied.
“A nation of women,” I said. “All
“By Earthly standards,” she said
turning to me. “But as I said in the be-
ginning you must understand our cus-
toms are not as yours. Here, the women
are the rulers. Men have only a minor
part in the business of state.”
I was tempted to ask something but
I didn’t think it to be the time.
. . Only Loko has changed those
conditions of servitude,” Luria went on.
“Since the dawn of the new era, women
took over the duties which men served
so dishonorably before. All went well
until Loko thought the time ripe. Se-
cretly, he trained his minions in the arts
of war, and when he thought the time
was ripe, began his campaign. He has
a clever tongue. Not only did he manage
to train the men of his tribe but he also
convinced the warrior women of the
Federation it was only for the purpose
of waging war upon me that he did so.
And that when he had defeated me he
would relegate them to their former
“And the Groana Bird?” Hank asked
“The Groana Bird is the symbol by
which we will conquer,” Luria said. “It
is the most ancient of all living beings
on Pola. It holds the secret of all things.
It means success or failure. Once it sat
on my father’s right hand. Now it roams
free and unfettered in the forest. We
all seek it. And find it I must even if
I have to go into the valley of the
mists. . . .”
|\I Y EARS pricked up at the sound
of a screaming voice. I thought
I was mistaken, but the voice sounded
masculine. The screaming came closer.
Then another voice joined it, this one
raised in anger, and this one decidedly
feminine. Hank and the girl heard the
sounds also. An expression of displeas-
ure crossed her face. She rose and start-
ed down the ramp. Hank and I followed.
We arrived at the front door simul-
taneously, Luria, Hank, I and the two
who were screaming. Luria flung the
door wide and a giant of a man sprawled
to his knees before her. Behind him,
some few feet came a short scrawny
woman who held in one hand a thick
“Ohh, Greatness . . .” the character
on his knees babbled. “Save me from
Haavah. Save me. . . .”
The women skidded to halt before
us. The sounds of the screaming had
brought others to their doors. I could
see children huddled close to their fath-
er’s knees. From the houses closest to
ours, several women strolled over in
curiosity. But at sight of the guy on his
knees before us and the scrawny babe
who was standing with the club hanging
limply from one hand, smiles broke on
their lips. It was evident this story was
not new to them.
“Now what is it, Jimno?” Luria
asked in disgust.
“Haavah,” the man babbled in a bass
voice which Ezio Pinza would have been
proud to possess, “she beats me. ... I
swear I have done nothing to deserve
the beatings. . .
“He lies, the idiot,” the woman said.
“In his teeth. Ten years we have been
together. A simple thing like soup, and
he burns it. It has become unbearable.
I awake and it takes him a lifetime to
make breakfast. Our children are the
worst-dressed in the whole village. All
he wants to do is sing. . .
“Now ain’t that too bad?” I said be-
fore Luria could say anything. “All he
wants to do is sing, eh? Well, maybe we
shouldn’t waste sympathy on him. After
all, he’s so big and you’re so small. I’m
sure if he ever decided to give you
your lumps, you’d be in bed for a
week. Of course, he might have a bit of
peace. . . .”
“Quiet,” Luria spat at me in anger.
“I give the orders and dispense the jus-
tice in these cases.”
“Sure,” Hank said. “Close your trap.
If we ever tell these characters that
they’re living in a fool’s paradise they’ll
tear these women limb from limb. . . .”
I swear that beautiful face turned
livid in anger. She turned on Hank and
slapped him right across the cheek. He
went pale in anger and I saw his hands
clench into bony fists. For the barest
second I thought he was going to haul
off and slug her. How he held back from
doing it I don’t know. I’m sure I
couldn’t have. Instead, he turned on his
heels and went back into the house. It
was a mistake. Because I observed that
the guy on his knees had been watching.
There was a bright light in his eyes
when Hank talked up like he did. But
when Hank did the disappearing act,
the light died.
The anger in Luria’s face went into
“Haavah! We are becoming weary of
this constant strife between you and
Jimno. If it is true what you say and
that you are as tired of it as you say,
then haul him up before the bar of
justice and have them sentence Jimno
to the breaking of paarans to the
\ CHANGE came over the woman’s
face at Luria’s words. It reflected
fear and horror now.
“Great Luria,” the woman bleated.
“And why not?’ Luria asked. “He is
of little use to you. Further he causes
nothing but trouble. He sings when he
should be doing the housework, he
burns the soup, lets the children run
ragged and uncared for, is lazy and a
dozen other things. You will be better
rid of him. . . .”
“And he of her,” I put in.
“But ... the paavans. They have
killed some who have tried to break
them to the halter. . .
“So he’ll have a chance to prove he’s
either man or mouse,” I said. “Certainly
he’s big enough as a man. H’m. If I had
you for a wife, I’d know who’d do the
housework and care for the kids. We
teach women differently on Earth. . . .”
“How is It done on Earth?” the man
asked suddenly. He was still on his
knees but his body was erect. And he
was looking straight at me. So stunned
were the two women by Jimno’s temer-
ity in speaking to me without asking
their permission, they could only stare.
“She’d fit just right over your knee,”
I said quickly. “A couple of smacks
with one of those palms and she’d be-
have, believe me . . .”
“Quiet, you!” Luria stormed.
But Haavah wielded a more efficient
means of silence. She raised her club
and clouted Jimno across the back of
the head. A ripple of laughter ran across
the narrow circle which had formed
about the woman and her husband, as
the man folded up in middle and sank
face downward to the ground.
QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD
“Take him away,” Luria said. To the
paavans’ compound. Let him break six
of the beasts to the halter.”
Suddenly I felt sick. Me and my big
mouth. What had I done? Maybe I
had sentenced a man to death? Anger
whipped my voice to a frenzied shout:
“So this is the stuff from which you
want us to weld a fighting force? And
how do you expect us to work it, by the
women whipping their men to us?”
From the corner of my eye I saw the
man stir, shake his head and slowly get
to his feet. Only I got the air of ominous
quiet with which he moved. The rest
watched him arise and an air of watch-
ful waiting settled among the women.
Dimly I felt someone standing by the
door behind us. At the same time I real-
ized that other doorways hid other
The woman, called Haavah, waited
only until Jimno stood erect. Then with
a movement that was altogether at vari-
ance with her scrawny self, she leaped
forward and swung the club at the same
Man oh man, if I had ever been
slugged like that I know I’d never have
been able to duck that club. But he did.
Then like a boxer who’d been hit hard
and wanted to weather the storm, he
ducked and weaved under and past the
swinging club. The women thought the
whole thing the funniest thing they’d
ever seen. They laughed as the poor guy
ducked, and once or twice they literally
screamed in hysteria as the club barely
missed the curly black hair.
When he did move it was with the
speed of a striking snake. One second
he was under the club, the next his
fingers had wrapped themselves around
it. With one twist it was pulled from
her. He chuckled deep in his throat as
he tossed it to one side. He motioned
her forward. She didn’t come so he
stepped toward her. I yelled a warning
as her hand sped to her belt. But he
was speed personified as his hand beat
hers to it. He twisted with an effortless
movement of his wrist and her hand fell
from the belt.
It was his free hand which went
toward the belt now. I saw a dozen
hands go for weapons as his fingers
went about the circle of leather. He
yanked downward and the leather
parted. This too he tossed to one side.
All the while his right hand held her
“Ten years, Haavah,” his voice lifted
in a singing shout. “Ten years. . .
T’LL SAY this. Her face showed not
the smallest sign of fear as he
whirled her so that her back was to him.
Then he had lifted her from her feet and
dropping to one knee he laid her across
that knee. She squirmed like a fish in a
net and like that same fish found all her
squirming without avail. His hand lifted
and fell, palm downward. It lifted and
fell. At first there was no sound but the
heavy breathing of the two. But after
the tenth whack on the woman’s poste-
rior, a whimper fled her lips. The whim-
per became a moan which later became
a sobbing sound. It was strange but not
a woman stirred or spoke while he was
administering the spanking. Nor did
any lift a voice when he was done and
“Go, woman, and prepare me food.
Jimno stood tall and proud and faced
“The sentence still stands, Jimno,”
she said. “Haavah will cook and keep
your house afterward. Beating her
“It proves he is a man,” I said.
“Not by your standards. My women
and I too, have broken the paavans to
the halter. Let him go and try to do it.
Then we can talk of manhood. . . .”
“What is a paavan?” I asked.
“Mokar is a paavan. . . .”
I turned and without a word went
back into the house. I saw a shape slide
into a passageway. I only got a glimpse
of the figure. It was that of a man and
the man was Hioa.
Hank was deep in the sofa, cuddled
up against one arm. He didn’t hear me
come in what with the depth of the car-
pet and for another thing he was deep
in thought. I slid into the opposite chair
and waited for him to come out of his
His eyes were bleak and bitter when
he finally did turn. “Nice going, Shar-
pe,” he said aloud. But he wasn’t talk-
ing to me. He was talking to himself.
“Now you can join the rest of the
eunuchs. . . .”
“Aah, cut it out,” I said in disgust.
“What the heck makes you that way.
The gal’s nuts about you.”
“Sure. Just like that scrawny dame
was about her man. Luria’s probably
been figuring in what womanly capacity
I’d do best. Well, if she thinks I’m going
to cook or scrub floors. . .
I knew there was one way of break-
ing Hank from his thoughts. He wasn’t
the kind of guy who looked good play-
ing cry-baby. For one thing he was too
big a man and I don’t mean in size. But
we had undergone a very strange and
mystifying ordeal. Not that I’m such a
big Joe about something like that. It’s
just that I’m thicker-skinned. Besides,
I had some long range plans, most of
which had to do with a Lovah gal. . . .
So I gave him the business about my
. . You got worries,” I broke in.
“Your worries I should have. . . .”
“What do you mean?”
“I just sentenced a guy to maybe his
“Sure. I made with a yuck and those
screwy dames, or rather, that screwy
dame, Luria, sentenced the poor Joe to
break Mokar’s buddies to the halter.”
“She would,” Hank said sourly.
“Yeah. And after he gave that silly
frau of his a good tanning,” I said.
“You mean the guy stood up for his
“That he did.”
“H’m. Then maybe all hope is not
lost. Where’s Luria?”
“Don’t ask me. I had to walk away
from it all.”
“What do you want?” her voice
asked from the direction of the ramp.
“One thing only, my pet,’ Hank said.
“What is it you want of us exactly?”
“Just one thing. Teach my menfolk
how to battle.”
“Okay. But first teach your menfolk
how to be men,” Hank said.
And that was that for the evening or
morning or whatever time it was in that
land of eternal sun. . . .
np HERE were twin beds in the sleep-
A ing rooms Luria had given us. Hank
and I slept in our undies. When we
awoke we awoke to find the rest of our
garments gone. In their places were
breastplates and helmets such as Cap-
tain Mita and the other men in Loko’s
world, wore. We even had the long and
short stickers to go in the belt that came
with the metal apron that went over
the short pants.
“She doesn’t miss a trick,” Hank said
wearily as he stepped into the modern
bathroom adjoining our bedroom. I
heard the splashing sound of water but
I was too engrossed in putting on the
uniform which had been provided for
me. Nor was it a bad fit. The only thing
large was the breastplate. Of course I
realized after a try-on, they weren’t
meant for a man.
The bathroom had everything but
razors. My beard which is of a dark
QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD
texture anyway hadn’t known a blade’s
touch for several days, in fact from the
looks of it, for a week. I remembered
then that the few men I’d seen were
either smooth-shaven or were hairless
on the face. Hank gave a last sputter
and stepped up from the sunken shower.
He was rubbing himself with a fuzzy
“Ain’t none. I looked. Guess no one
shaves out here. How do they fit?”
I did a double-take at the words, then
grinned at him. He had guessed at my
tardiness. I told him and he answered
“Oh, well. Go on, take your shower.
I’ll see you later.”
He wasn’t in the room when I came
back. Neither was his war garb. I
donned mine and stepped out into the
passage leading to the ramp. Here the
bedrooms were on the lower floor. The
two of them were already eating when
I arrived. Hank gave me an okay sign
with his thumb and index fingers, but
the girl didn’t even look up. We ate in
“Well,” she said after a last drink
of something that looked like coffee but
tasted like something else only better,
“now that we’re awake, suppose we get
“You bet,” I said, “and what does
your greatness want us to do?”
. . When we get there,” she threw
over her shoulder as she started for the
I gulped audibly when I saw what
was awaiting us. Mokar and two of his
brothers. Luria mounted her beast and
looked to us. Hank and I did an Al-
ponse-Gaston act for a couple of sec-
onds, then with ill-concealed reluctance,
stepped to the sides of our mounts.
Those darned animals must have sensed
our fear. As I started to lift my leg he
turned his head and showed me his
They were very pretty. I wondered
who his dentist was, as I shied, but fast,
from the spot I was in. Hank, on the
other hand, had a lot more guts than I
wanted to have. When his mount tried
to pull a similar stunt, Hank cracked
him over the nose. The beast’s head
came up and sideways. Hank slapped
him again and jerked at the halter. In-
stantly the panther obeyed. Then Hank
slid in the saddle.
And that left me on the ground.
“Oh, come now, nimble-tongue,”
Luria needled me. “We can’t spend all
“We can’t?” I parried beautifully.
She looked past me and I turned to
follow her glance. Directly behind us
were a dozen of the biggest women I’ve
ever seen. Not a single one was under
six feet in height. And all were armed.
As though in answer to a signal, one of
them jabbed at me with one of those
ten feet-long spears they carried. It
barely touched me, but that tip had a
needle for a point. I yipped in pain and
alarm. Then with a single leap I was
in the shallow saddle. Teeth or no teeth,
that spear was sharper.
We hadn’t far to go. And after a while
I got to rather like the ride. Those pan-
thers ran like the wind and the move-
ment didn’t have the up-and-down feel-
ing of a horseback ride. Our destination
was a valley. The valley was natural but
it had been fenced in by a staked fence.
There was a gate at the end we had
arrived at. One of the warrior women
dismounted and opened it. We rode in
and found ourselves on a wide ledge
overlooking the sheer drop to the almost
circular valley below.
T LOOKED about and saw that a
long series of steps had been cut
into the stone. Below us something was
taking place which caught and held my
attention. At the far end of the valley
QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD
I made out the shapes of four panthers.
Coming toward them were a dozen
women. These women were armed with
spears. Behind them, unarmed, walked
Jimno. We could hear the women crying
to the panthers, telling them to take it
easy. The animals suddenly broke and
raced around the valley floor. Not all
of them I saw after a second. One of
them had been cornered. And for the
first time I saw what Jimno carried in
his arms, a bridle and halter.
I gasped when I realized what he was
going to do, place them about the pan-
ther’s throat. I watched breathlessly
his approach. The only thing the women
did were hold the panther at bay with
their spears. Jimno had to do the dirty
work. And it was more than just dirty.
It was dangerous. The beast snarled
and showed its teeth. But I’ll say this
for the man. He walked in like it was a
big tabby he was going to pet.
Suddenly there was a swirl of motion.
A small cloud of dust arose. When it
cleared we saw that Jimno had succeed-
ed in placing the halter where it be-
longed. But his task was half-done. Now
he had to ride the panther. Like a cen-
taur, Jimno leaped onto the animal’s
back, kicked him in the ribs and began
to work the reins. The animal snarled,
turned his head to get at the man’s feet
but was only rewarded by slaps across
its nostrils and kicks in the ribs. I was
reminded of a cowboy breaking in a
bronc. And to carry the simile further,
Jimno rode the panther back and forth
across the floor of the valley until the
panther obeyed the slightest touch of
the reins and of the feet.
The second and third beasts broke in
as easily as the first. The fourth was
another story. It was easily the largest
of the four animals, even larger, I think
than Mokar. It slapped the spears, once
knocking down the woman who held one
of them. If the others hadn't rushed to
her defense he would have torn her limb
“Jimno had better be careful with
this one,” Luria said. “He shows a wild
Jimno must have realized it also. His
steps were far more careful. He walked
daintily as though on eggs. The circle
of spears opened to let him through.
Sensing the helplessness of the man, the
beast whirled to face him. Someone
nearby was breathing in harsh, throaty
gasps. It was me. . . .
Down below the drama was becom-
ing more tense. Jimno moved forward
slowly, carefully. The beast retreated
until at last its back was against the
wall. Then Jimno did something strange.
He paused when only a few feet from
the panther, shook his head and dropped
the gear he was carrying. He paused
there erect and unafraid, then stepped
forward. Instantly, as though the beast
had been awaiting Jimno’s action, he
reared upward its front legs with those
terrible claws open. And Jimno walked
straight forward into the embrace.
I tried to yell, tried to get something
past the sandpaper which had suddenly
lined my throat, but nothing came out.
Even in the midst of terror, in circum-
stances which seem to hold one’s entire
attention, there is part of one that is
separate from the rest. So it was I some-
how saw Hank’s and the girl’s reaction
to what was going on below.
Hank’s face was rigid, livid with the
tense expectation of what was sure to
happen to Jimno, and horror-stricken
that he couldn’t help. Luria too showed
emotion. Her’s rather was like a surgeon
in an operating amphitheatre, watching
a fellow surgeon at work.
Below, Jimno walked into the pan-
ther’s embrace. But not to his death,
as we were imagining. I don’t know how
he did it, but suddenly Jimno ducked.
He must have ducked a split second be-
fore the beast slashed at him. But Jimno
ducked the blow. And like light Jimno
used both hands to grasp the panther
by the fur at the shoulder. Then setting
his feet hard in the earth Jimno swung
the panther about and leaped on its
T COULDN’T help letting out a wild
^ yell of delight. Nor was Hank far
behind me with his cheer. Even Luria’s
eyes shone in admiration. For Jimno
now had the panther at a disadvantage.
He was on the beast’s back, his fingers
deep in the. fur, his legs wound around
the beast’s belly. Jimno’s right hand
came up and delivered a terrific slap
across the panther’s face. The beast
reared his fore claws and legs trying to
swipe in futile swings at the man on its
back. The more the beast clawed the
harder Jimno slapped. At last Jimno
won out. With a last vicious blow, Jim-
no slid from the panther’s back and
walked nonchalantly to where the
women were standing.
He walked with his shoulders square
and his back straight and when he came
into their midst he didn’t walk around
them but moved as though they had
better give him room, else he’d walk
right over them. They moved out of his
way all right.
He marched up the long flight of
stairs, saw us, and came forward to
stand before Luria.
“Greatness,” he said, “the deed
to which I was sentenced has been
done. . .
“And well-done,” Luria said graci-
ously. “Truly, you are a man, one
worthy of carrying arms. Jimno, tell
me. Would you care to be the first of
the legions of men I am going to re-
“I would be honored.”
“Good. In the future you and Haavah
will share equally the burdens and joys
QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD
of your lives. If she lays a hand to you,
you have my express authority to strike
back. . .
I realized I was hearing history being
made. These men, though not eunuchs,
performed the same functions.
“. . . So be it with you Jimno, and
all men. Hear me, my lieutenants. From
this day henceforth, all men share and
share alike, the burdens and joys of
women. On our return spread the news
to the entire community. Go. You,
Hank and Berk, stay with me. I have
things to tell. . .
She waited until the others had left,
then dismounted from Mokar and
walked to the lip of the valley and sat
on a grassy hummock. Hank and I fol-
lowed and sat beside her.
"... I was awake all night,” she said.
“Sleep would not come to me. My mind
kept turning over and over again on the
dilemna we are in. It is not an easy
thing to admit defeat before it comes.
Yet defeat is undeniable.”
“Why?” Hank asked.
She tossed her head and her hair
shook free in gleaming waves about her
“We are too few. Loko has not alone
the majority of the tribes but the very
ones who have kept up a semblance of
the war-like proclivities of their prede-
cessors. We are their superiors in spirit,
but in war, spirit alone is not enough.”
“So?” Hank was doing one of those
single-syllable deals with her. I knew
it was irritating her because it was irri-
tating me. Of course / knew the reason
for it. She didn’t.
“I have tride to find a way out but
the only one I can think of is to go to
Loko and acknowledge his claim and
throw myself on his mercy.”
“If that’s the way you feel ...” Hank
I hid a grin in my palm. She was get-
ting a little flushed in her cheeks. Spots
of color burned below her eyes and her
eyes were beginning to flash in anger.
Her right hand, lying on the grass close
to me clenched in a small and capable
“Okay then,” Hank said. “Since that
is the way you feel send us back.”
Her hand came down in a slap at the
earth. H,er lips set firm and hard against
“Very well,” she said. “I won’t hold
you here against your wishes. As soon
as we get back. . . .”
TW E SAW the smudge of smoke
’ lying low on the horizon when we
were barely past the first hill. Luria’s
eyes widened at the odd sight, than nar-
rowed in sudden understanding. I guess
I was the last to catch on and so was
the last to urge my beast to greater
speed. I don’t think we were very far
from Gayno when we saw a horde of
humans and animals coming toward us.
In the lead, mounted on a magnificent
panther, was Jimno.
We drew rein and waited for the ar-
rival of the first of the mob. Jimno
leaped from the back of his mount,
dashed over to us and stood silent, his
great chest heaving in panting breath.
We saw then that he had suffered a
number of wounds, one of them a wide
slash from a sharp instrument, that had
cut through the surface flesh all the way
across the chest. Blood dripped from
the wound, but Jimno seemed com-
pletely unaware of it.
“. . . Loko,” he gasped after a second.
He turned as the first of the hundreds
of men, women and children streamed
up, then brought his attention back to
us. “Loko’s minions attacked. While we
were in the valley of the paavans. It
was a surprise. And before a defense
could be organized, they had set fire to
the whole of the city. They were too
many and the surprise was too great.
Many perished. These are all who were
left. I organized the retreat. . .
They were a pitiful few, I saw, that
had made good their escape. My eyes
gladdened when I saw that the girl,
Lovah, was among them. I’ve got to
hand it to Luria. No fumbling, no fear,
“Then they will surely follow; per-
haps they are not too far off. To the
caves. Jimno, you, Lovah and Berk,
take twenty warriors and cover the rear.
I’ll take the others. . .
“So get moving, stupe,” Hank yelled.
I held both hands out emptily to show
why I wasn’t going anywhere. Immedi-
ately someone thrust a sword into one
hand and a spear into the other, and to
make matters completely at a loss for
me Hank kicked my mount in the rump
and Lovah, Jimno, and I were off to
Into the valley of death rode the
twenty-three, I thought, as we headed
back. Lovah reined her panther to my
“Remember one thing,” she said as
we rode, “your paavan is faster in every
way than the okas they ride. It is our
real advantage over them. You are rid-
ing, Lipso, a well-trained animal. I
know because I trained him. Give him
the reins if we meet danger. And stay
close to, my man, because this will not
be a contest of fists.”
Lipso was well-trained because when
I leaned over and put my arms about
Lovah’s waist and drew her close, he
didn’t move an inch or slack his pace.
I kissed her hard, perhaps not as satisfy-
ingly as I wanted, but for the condition,
well enough. I guessed it was the first
time she’d ever been kissed because she
brought one hand to her mouth in won-
der. The most beautiful smile I’d ever
seen came to life on those wonderful lips
and before I knew what she was intend-
ing, she had reached in my direction,
hauled me to her and gave me a kiss in
return. Years went by before I came out
of the halo-like daze I was in. From then
on love was the last thing on my mind.
The dirty dogs had set the whole
place on fire. Not only that but there
were some who were still alive in the
inferno. We could hear the screams of
the poor devils. Jimno took the lead as
though he was born to it.
TUT IS hand shot up and we rode up
1 A until we were a narrow circle
about him. He gestured with his hand
toward a stretch of trail which would
lead us between the usual lush jungle
growth with which I was now familiar.
“It seems,” Jimno said in a growling
voice, “that they are too intent on loot,
pillage and worse, to pursue. Or perhaps
they think we will wait their coming on
bended knees. But soon they will think
of those who escaped. Then will they
ride after. There is no trail other than
through there. . . .”
Again I looked to the dense brush
and narrow trail and immediately a pic-
ture formed in mind of what could hap-
pen were we to lay a trap.
. . We are few but enough for what
we can do. To face them squarely would
be suicidal. Rather let us pair off and
infilter through the brush but not too
far off the trail. Our paavans move like
shadows between the narrowest part of
the forest. Their clumsier and slower
beasts cannot follow. Therefore let us
make haste and make rendezvous with
them as they enter and harry them until
they reach the open spaces. Then, when
we have done with them here, let us ride
ahead and make sure we meet them
again later, where the forest meets the
The women wore broad smiles long
before he had finished. They needed
nothing further in the way of command
or instruction. Like shadows, they melt-
QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD
ed into the greyness which bordered the
lush growth. In a few seconds it seemed
as though there had never been human
or beast on the trail. Jimno, one of the
women warriors, Lovah and myself,
were the last to lose ourselves.
“Give Lipso his head,” Lovah said
as she moved forward. “He has been
trained to follow. . .
We wound about, our beasts moving
in complete silence, over fallen logs, be-
tween the boles of jungle-giants which
pressed so closely together that it
seemed impossible anything other than
a snake could maneuver his way
through. Yet the lithe black bodies man-
aged with an ease which astounded me.
Deeper and further into the gloomy
green we went. As though aware of the
impending clash, the forest life was
stilled, not even the birds trilling their
Lipso and Lovah’s mount moved tail
to snout, so close were they. I watched
the lithe form of the woman ahead. Sud-
denly her hand went to the scabbard
and the long sword came into the open.
I followed suit. I could see nothing.
There was nothing to be seen. The
jungle looked as impenetrable as ever.
The sun never existed as far as I was
concerned. We moved in an odorous
and silent world. Then Lipso stopped
and I became aware that Lovah was
sitting erect and expectant.
From somewhere ahead there came
a grunting and squealing. The sound of
men’s voices lifted in rough talk also
came to our ears, but so dimly I couldn’t
make out the words. My throat tight-
ened so that my breath came out in a
wheeze when I realized that the moment
was at hand for our ambush. There was
but a single question in my mind. How
were we going to go about it?
Lovar answered that question.
Her fingers pulled lightly on the reins
and before my startled eyes her mount
leaped nimbly up the huge bole of a
nearby tree. Immediately, Lipso fol-
lowed. I clung tightly with both hands
about the panther’s neck. Worse was to
follow. The animals moved gingerly out
on a limb, mine a little below and to the
left of Lovah’s. We perched thus for
the space of perhaps thirty seconds. I
saw that we were almost directly above
the narrow, twisting trail. The grunting
sounds of the animals and the gutteral
sounds of their riders came more dis-
tinctly to my ears.
They were telling each other, with a
horrible relish, of what they had done,
while the houses burned. . . .
A PECULIAR series of tuneless
whistles broke from the midst of
the forest about us and simultaneously
with those sounds the how of the am-
bush was made clear to me. I saw Lo-
vah’s thighs contract and grip close to
the lean sides of the animal she was on.
And the next second the panther was a
black streak of silent fury falling
through space. Nor was he alone. Only
reflex came to my help, otherwise I
would have ended up on my face in the
grass-grown jungleland. But my thighs
did tighten and one arm managed to
hold the reins, as Lipso left his feet in
a leap after the first panther.
We leaped into the midst of some
eight or nine mounted men. The lizard-
elks animals they were on were squeall-
ing wildly as Lipso and the other beast
leaped among them, slashing with claw
and tearing with fang. The instant we
reached the ground Lovah shouted for
me to dismount. Now we were on our
own. As I slashed wildly about with the
razor-sharp sword, I heard the sounds
of battle all about me. But so dense was
the underbrush and so furious the ac-
tion, so disconnected, I got only flashes.
But one was unforgettable. Jimno had
engaged the largest of the enemy, a man
QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD
perhaps a foot taller than himself.
The single glimpse I caught was of
Jimno being pressed back into the
jungle by the power of the other’s sword
play. Then they were lost to my sight.
Xor was I interested any further. Death
and I had come to grips. The sword in
my hand was like a broom handle for all
I knew of its use. And these men we
had ambushed had been trained since
childhood to its murderous use.
There was only one factor which
saved me from instant extinction. We
were fighting in brush. There simply
wasn't room for fancy footwork and
dexterous strokes. It was hack and chop
and duck, and when it came to that I
didn’t have to take a back seat to any-
one. A lifetime spent in ducking girls
I’d promised things to came in use.
He got in the first chops, but he didn’t
lick his lips from them. I ducked and
took a couple of whacks myself. They
were as close to the mark as Stalin and
Taft. All the time my brain was worry-
ing about Lovah. After all I was fight-
ing even. She was taking on the rest.
He came at me again, and this time I
waited until he was a couple of feet from
me, about the length of a sword stroke.
The stroke I used was my favorite serv-
ice stroke in tennis. I was a shade slow.
But it was enough. He got his blade up
in a parry. Holy cats, what happened
to him should happen to the rest. Some-
thing strange happened to Hank and
myself in our journey from the Earth
to this place. Our strength multiplied
tenfold. My blade not only knocked his
to one side but the end four inches
sliced right through his collar bone and
down into his chest. He let out a single
screech and fell backward, blood foun-
taining out from the huge wound.
I wasted no time in sympathy. There
were the ringing sounds of blade strik-
ing blade not far from me. I leaped over
a fallen log and into the place where
Lovah was battling. She had backed up
so that she had her shoulders to a huge
tree. Facing her were four men. Two
others lay in the curious positions the
jV/T Y APPROACH was silent. The
first they knew of my presence
was when one of them fell face forward.
He fell straight down. He looked kind of
funny, what with his head going one
way and his body another. Nor did I
waste time in watching him. Once again
my tennis came to a more different use.
I’d used a forehand on the first. The
second fell into a backhand that Riggs
would have envied. There was only one
thing wrong with it. I clouted this char-
acter across the chest. The blade went
all the way into him. And stuck there.
I yanked at it and finally stuck one
foot up against the guy and tried to
pull it out, but no use. It wasn’t till I
thought of the dead man’s sticker and
turned and picked it off the ground that
I realized that all the time I was vul-
nerable to attack from the other two.
I needen’t have worried. They were
being taken care of but good. My Lovah
child was no mean shakes with the
sword. Those two characters were danc-
ing a pretty good Lindy to the tune she
was playing. I’m sure they wanted to
be anywhere else but where they were.
Even as I watched she lunged with her
sword straight out and pinked one of
the boys right through his throat. He
wasn’t going to swallow anything for a
long while without it leaking out.
“Lovah!" I screamed suddenly.
She had slipped on a wet spot of
grass and in that second the other one
was at her side. Her sword had flown
out of her hand as she threw up her
arms trying to maintain a balance. She
was completely helpless and I was too
far from her to help. There was but one
thing to do. I lifted my sword and
heaved it, point forward. The guy’s
sword was already coming down when
mine hit. It went all the way through
him. He fell straight down over the girl.
And from where I was standing it
looked like I’d thrown too late.
“Angel,” I moaned as I ran forward
and knelt at her side. I shoved the car-
cass of the goon who’d fallen over her,
to one side and lifted her up. “Angel!
Talk to me. . .
“I will,” she said, “as soon as I get
my breath back. Now,” she continued
after I’d kissed her for a while, “let us
get out of here. They’ll organize soon
and we are too few to do more than
we have. . . .”
She arose and puckered her lips into
that tuneless whistle. In a second the
two panthers came trotting to us. Their
snouts were stained with blood and it
drooled from the corners of their
mouths. They hadn’t been loafing either.
Lovar leaped into the flat saddle and I
followed. There was no need to give the
animals their orders. They knew by in-
stinct what was expected of them.
Whirling, they loped off at top speed
through the thick growth. In a short
while we joined the rest at the rendez-
vous agreed on. We took stock. Our
entire losses were one warrior and two
panthers. Jimno was elated.
“We have halted them for a while.
Now they will proceed with caution
which was our purpose. . . . About and
make for the hills.”
TJ ANK had grim lines to his face.
But they were erased at sight of
me riding in the fore with Lovah and
Jimno. Jimno shouted the news while
we were still a hundred feet from the
QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD
entire remnants of the camp. A wild yell
of exultation went up from their throats
at the news. Only Luria held her re-
serve. But even she could not help but
They surrounded us and asked a
hundred questions. I let Jimno take the
stage. The guy deserved it. He had
staged a masterful ambush and had
gotten away with remarkably small
losses. Hank dragged me to one side and
pumped me dry of what had happened.
The sound of Luria’s voice broke up
“Let us not waste time in useless talk.
Jimno and the others did a good job.
They have delayed the pursuit for a
time. But when they realize how small
a force opposed them they will come the
“We cannot stay here and we cannot
go in a single body to the place where
we will be safe. Therefore, I think it
best to assign squad leaders to groups
who will then take different trails to our
“Jimno, because you have proved
your unquestioned leadership, you will
take the largest group, all warriors, and
fight a rear-guard action to delay and
harass the enemy. Wamini and Saavah
will lead the women and children by
the trail I have outlined, to the place
of safety. Lovah, you will be in charge
of the balance of the warriors, men and
women, who will wait here until Jimno
returns, and fight a battle with the
enemy. But that can wait until the oth-
ers have left.”
It was remarkable how little confu-
sion there was. Luria amazed Hank and
myself in her showing of leadership. It
just didn’t seem right that so beautiful
a woman should have qualities that was
rightfully man’s. In a very short time
several lines spread from the encamp-
ment in various directions, some toward
the hills close by, others back in the
direction from which we’d just come
and one, the smallest group in a direc-
tion at right angles to the back trail.
This group was led by Jimno. I won-
dered where they were going. When the
last had left, only Hank, Luria, two of
her personal guards, and myself were
“And now,” Luria said turning to
Hank and me, “we too must journey.
Let us hope we are successful. . .
“Why? Where are we going?” Hank
“To the valley of the mists. To that
same valley where first you saw me, as
though in a dream. There, the Groana
Bird makes his home, and there is where
the dread beast of flame lives. We must
bring back the Groana Bird. . .
“Why?” Hank asked again.
“Because it was the symbol of my
father’s strength. And even Loko will
respect it and give up his pretensions.
Remember how you were captured? He
too wants the bird. But we have one
thing in our favor. I know the bird’s
haunts. He doesn’t.”
I listened to the first part of it. Then
my thoughts wandered. Lovah had been
chosen to give battle to the enemy. Of
a sudden I felt fear strike at my in-
nards. I knew then, that I had fallen
in love with my Amazon. And I was
frightened. They had seemed so few,
riding back toward, what? Their doom?
“We have a long ride ahead, and a
dangerous one,” Luria continued. “Talk
wastes time. . .
T T WAS the longest ride I’d ever been
on. Since there was no appreciable
change in time, I never knew what was
what. We slept, we ate, and we rode,
and always the sun was overhead.
There were times for eating and
sleeping and after a while I managed
to gain a sort of idea from our sleeping
habits of an approximate time. We were
on the trail at least one week. The
topography held to about the same
character until about the last day.
The first few miles of our ride after
the awakening on what I called the sev-
enth day, we rode through a narrow
valley set between two high and preci-
pitous hills. We had been in the midst
of mountain country for a long time.
Suddenly Luria, who was riding at the
head of our little column, waved her
hand to the right and swerved from the
path she’d been riding on, to a narrow
trail which led straight up the wall of
The trail straightened and to my hor-
ror became part of the wall itself. Even
a Roeky Mountain goat would have
found it difficult traveling. Not these
panthers, though. They moved swiftly,
and surely along the narrow trail. Then,
with an abruptness which took my
breath away, the trail ended against a
barrier of rock. I was next to last so I
could not see what Luria was doing or
where she was going. I saw only the
chalky-white face of the wall towering
over us. Lipso had stopped and was
waiting patiently to go on.
The panther and its mount directly
in front of me began a slow advance
and Lipso followed. I saw then where
we were heading and my wonder was
boundless. A path had been hewed like
a tunnel directly into the cliff. And for
the first time I knew darkness on Pola.
It was instant. I don’t know how the
animals managed to find their way. In-
stinct, I suppose. But the darkness was
too much for me. I couldn’t see my nose
in front of my face. And since our foot-
falls were muffled we seemed to be trav-
eling in the silence of a tomb.
Once more the transition from dark
to light was instantaneous. We were in
a shallow amphitheatre but one which
stretched for limitless distances. We
rode up to join Luria. She looked out
over the mists and said in a small child-
“The valley of the mists, the lair of
the beast. My father took me and Mo-
kar here once in the long ago. Mokar
has never forgotten. Look . . .”
We followed the line of her out-
stretched finger and an involuntary
shiver shook my frame. Never had I
seen a more forbidding place. The mists
were like feathers of smoke. They filled
the place in breath, width and height.
Now and then the mists would part for
an instant and black damp rock would
show monstrous shapes like a scene
from Hell. Strange hissing noises came
alive to lend added terror to the pros-
pect. Luria’s shoulders squared and
turning to us, she said in dry, sure
“We gain nothing here. The Groana
bird lies there. Let us be on our way.
One thing. The beast of flame lies in
wait. Watch for him.”
There was but one trouble with be-
ing on our way. The instant we moved
into the mists it was like stepping into
a thick fog. I know I was riding along-
side one of the two huge women who
were Luria’s personal guards. The next
I knew, Lipso and I were alone in this
strange and terrifying world.
Lipso sensed it immediately and his
steps became cautious and slow. He
snuffled loudly nor was he alone. The
rest of them also used their noses rather
than their eyes. The mists would part
now and then giving us glimpses of what
lay beyond. It also permitted us to see
whether we were still together. We
weren’t. Once I saw Hank. He looked
a bit bewildered and his head was mov-
ing from side to side as though in search
of Luria. The mists closed down and
once more we groped our way through
I echoed in a minor chord the sudden
scream which arose from the mists. It
QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD
was a human scream. And hard on its
heels came a roar which turned me into
a block of ice. Lipso grunted a low
growl and his body tensed, the muscles
bunching under me as though it was
getting ready to spring.
Like magic the mists parted altogeth-
er and I saw the whole of this horren-
dous place. We were in a grotto. Di-
rectly in front of me was one of the
women guards. By her side was Hank.
I as usual was the last in the parade.
Off to one side away from the rest was
Luria. But all of us were looking at
what lay before us.
T T WAS a nightmare. The body of the
A beast was a good thirty feet in
length. I recognized it as the same in
species as those we had encountered in
the pit. But this one was the daddy of
them all. Smoke and fire came from its
nostrills. The great triangular head
moved back and forth like a snake’s.
And lying under the ridiculous paws
was the broken body of the other
amazon. . . .
“Back!” Luria shouted. “I’ll take
care of him.”
Hank’s shout was lost in the roar
which came from the animal’s throat.
I was too terrified to move. I could only
watch the spectable which followed
with a fascinated horror. I noticed little
things; the fact that the guard must
have come onto the cave that was the
beast’s lair unaware of its occupant;
that the panther she rode must have
thrown her in his panic to escape, be-
cause she was lying face upward on her
back; I saw too that the grotto was im-
mense, the entrance being at least a
hundred feet in height.
Then the mists closed in again.
Lovah’s admonition came to mind.
That if I was ever in a spot to give
Lipso his head. I let the reins go slack
and the shape below me moved back
and forth in its tracks without making
a forward step. When the beast did go
forward it was slowly. A rank odor so
strong I had to hold my breath at in-
tervals, wafted in to us from ahead. The
roars had increased in both intensity
and constancy. And now they were
closer. . . .
And again the mists lifted.
Lipso halted in his progress. A snarl
rose in his throat. The tableaux had
evolved in action. Luria too must have
stopped when the scene was obscured.
Now she went into action. Her lovely
body was bent forward until it seemed
to lie along the sleek black length of the
panther, her spear was couched low, the
long needle-tip pointed straight for the
beast ahead. I saw her heels dig into
Mokar’s side. And with a ferocious
roar, Mokar leaped forward.
I yelped in horror as Lipso followed
Mokar’s lead. There had been some sort
of telepathic orders from either Mokar
or his mistress. Because the beasts of
Hank and the other guard also shot
toward the beast in the grotto entrance.
Luria reached the beast first though we
couldn’t have been more than ten feet
behind. The last fifteen feet Mokar left
his feet in a tremendous bound. The
terror ahead rose on its hind legs, the
tiny paws waving ridiculously toward
the woman and her mount. But the ter-
rible snout was open and the rows of
huge teeth were an obstacle I never
dreamed I’d have to face, directed
toward the foolhardy things challeng-
At the very last second Mokar
changed direction with a wondrously
lithe movement of his body and instead
of coming in from the front, came in
from the side. Then Lipso was in the
air too. Instinctively I brought my
spear to a position similar to the one
Luria had used.
A violent roar of rage shook the air.
Luria had driven her spear straight into
the leathery skin of the beast’s throat.
She hadn’t waited for the thing to re-
taliate. Mokar had seen to it. His mis-
sion accomplished, Mokar turned tail
and leaped to safety. But Lipso wasn’t
I was a lot more clumsy than Luria
had been. My spear glanced off the
thick skin and flew to one side. My
thoughts had been on the destructive
power of the great teeth and jaws. I’d
forgotten about his tail. Suddenly it
swished around and caught Lipso full
in the side. I heard him grunt softly and
felt the beast below me go limp. I barely
managed to fall to one side as Lipso
was knocked a half dozen feet by the
blow. He lay where he fell nor did he
so much as move a muscle.
Now the thing had something it could
vent its spleen on. I managed to get to
my feet just as the beast reached me.
I had been given a sword. I went for it
like an outlaw goes for the Colt at his
hip when the Marshall comes for him.
I drew it just as I felt the beast’s rank
breath on my face and saw the saw-
teeth within a foot of me. I leaped to
one side and as I did swung the long
r~p HE sword went right through the
ugly snout. The most frightful roar
of all went up and a thick terribly odor-
ous mucous flowed out of the wound in
a torrent. The stench of it was over-
powering. There was a confused sound
of shouting as I backed off a couple of
feet. But I was strictly intent on the
thing in front of me. It hadn’t given up
the battle. It still had a tail and too ob-
viously no intelligence. Though the
wound I had given it was terrible, the
beast seemed unaware of it. Its tail
swished out again but this time I was
on the watch for it. And this time I
Hank’s voice was low but full of
“Okay, pal. Let’s go to work.”
This time it was we who attacked.
Hank took one side and I the other. We
leaped in, our swords swinging with
perhaps not the finesse of the others’,
but certainly with better effect. For
every time we struck, the steel plowed
right through. Either the thickness of
skin was deceptive or our strength was
greater than we had ever imagined it to
be. The whole slaughter couldn’t have
taken more than a few seconds. The last
of the pieces to be dissected was the
tail. Two swipes, one a forehand the
other a backhand, and the tail was just
a memory for Nightmare Moe.
In the meantime the other guard had
joined us. Her first thrust with the spear
had been a good one. She had managed
to withdraw the weapon before her
paavan leaped to safety. Now she stood
by our side and jabbed with it like a
probing needle. I wondered why until
quite suddenly the beast sank down and
rolled slowly over. The thing had a spot
through which he could be dealt a mor-
tal bow. The gal did it with one jab.
We stopped our swinging and stood
looking at each other, our breaths com-
ing in shallow gasps. The woman,
though the label sounded silly, towered
over us and had the muscles of a foun-
dry worker. Shook her head in admira-
tion and said:
“Truly, you two are the greatest war-
riors in all Pola. Never have I seen such
sword strokes. Never have I seen such
strength. The Habasi is not faced
calmly. And this one is truly the largest
I have ever seen. His skin is like the
thick bark of the Ofas tree which is
like a metal. Yet your blades sliced him
as though he were meat ready for the
table. . .
She continued to shake her head in
wordless admiration. I noticed that
QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD
Hank, however, was no longer basking
in the glow of that admiration. His head
was bent to one side. Suddenly he
snapped the fingers of his free hand and
whirled to me.
“Luria! Where is she?”
The mists seemed to have lifted with
some degree of finality. At any rate,
they no longer enveloped us with their
foggy, tenuous fingers. There was noth-
ing to be seen of Luria or Mokar.
The wide nostrils of the woman
spread in anger. She bent in a semi-
crouch, as though she were sniffing a
danger not to be seen. Hank, too, kept
looking from one side of the tortured
bit of ground as though he thought the
girl had fallen among some of the rocks.
As usual, when it came to Luria, Hank
was the first to guess at her where-
abouts. He gathered she hadn’t fled the
scene. He must have also reasoned then
that there was but one place she could
be, the grotto that had been the Ha-
Without a word or look, Hank
whirled and leaped toward the entrance.
I followed but not with as much en-
thusiasm. In fact the woman was on
Hank’s heels. There was a dim light as
we came into the grotto proper. It died
slowly until we were running in total
darkness after the first few hundred
feet. Suddenly, as though someone had
turned on dim lights all over the cave,
a radiance came to life. It wasn’t much
but it was enough to light our way.
XXT E WERE running on some sort of
' V moss, for our footsteps were
soundless. The cave was dry and rather
cool. It led straight back and at a slight-
ly downward grade. Suddenly we came
against a blank wall. I mean just that.
There were no forks in the road we had
been running. The cave ended up
against that blank wall.
“What the . . Hank growled. “But
this doesn’t make sense.”
“Does anything in this goofy place?”
“Then where did Luria go?” he
In the meantime the woman had been
moving along the wall. Suddenly she
bent and began a loud sniffling some two
feet from the ground.
“Mokar,” she announced, “has been
here. His scent is strong here. . . .”
Hank took her at her word. But me,
I was skeptical.
“Well,” I ventured, “then the only
conclusion is that she vanished into thin
air. And knowing the young lady as well
as we do, I wouldn’t doubt it.”
“Uh, uh,” Hank said, shaking his
head doggedly. “There wouldn’t be any
reason for it.”
“No? Perhaps her old man was a
smart guy and put this Groana Bird in
a place where only his daughter could
get at it.”
“Then why did he keep it a secret?”
I had no answer for that.
In the meantime the woman had been
busy. Her fingers tapped the surface,
ran lightly across the face, as though in
search of some crack not seen by the
eyes. Suddenly she let out a bark of
triumph. We stepped quickly to her
“What’s up?” I asked.
For an answer she slammed the palm
of her hand against the rock. It spun
away from her and before our aston-
ished eyes we saw a long narrow room,
high-ceilinged and with walls of natu-
ral rock. At the far end we saw Mokar
loling at his ease. Of Luria, nothing was
to be seen. Of course we realized what
had happened. The wall swung on a
pivot. Luria’s bodyguard had reasoned
that since the trail ended there it had to
continue beyond. Her sense of smell had
told her that Mokar had come to that
point. Unless they had disappeared into
air, they had to be somewhere beyond
Hank was first to step through. I fol-
lowed and the woman brought up the
rear. We saw it simultaneously. In one
corner of the room was an immense bird
cage. Luria stood beside it crooning
something to a brilliantly colored bird
which rocked back and forth on a perch.
She turned, saw us, smiled a welcome,
and turned back to the bird. We came
over and ranged ourselves beside the
girl. I looked at the bird with curiosity.
They could call it what they wanted,
Groana Bird, holy bird, or anything
else. As far as I was concerned it was
a polly. Hank had the same sentiments.
“A cockatoo,” he said in a low voice.
“Aah, shut up,” the bird suddenly
“Shut up yourself,” Hank blazed.
“Okay, if that’s what you want,” the
Luria turned an angry face to us.
“And just when I had soothed the
Groana Bird,” she said through slitted
lips. “I could, I could . . her voice
trailed off in helpless syllables.
“Groana, Shmoana,” I said. “What is
this? He’s nothing but a parrot. What’s
all the fuss about?”
“Yeah,” the parrot said. “What’s all
the fuss for?”
“Do you mean,” Hank asked, “that
this is the holy bird your father held in
such high esteem?”
“The wisest animal in the whole
world,” Luria said. “What he says be-
comes law. We must bring him back
“So okay,” I said. “Only let’s get out
of this dungeon. It’s beginning to give
me the creeps.”
I had a swell idea. That is until they
began searching for the door to open
the cage and discovered there was none.
The bars were set close enough to hold
the bird prisoner. I wondered how they
had placed him inside. The bird
watched our parade around his cage
with cocked head and jaundiced eye.
After a few moments of it he broke out
in his raucous voice:
“Let’s not keep up this silly dance.
Besides, I’m getting hungry. Let’s get
me out of this place.”
“I’d like to twist that fool head of
yours from those feathers,” I said
“Ha-ha!” the bird crowed. “So would
a lot of them. So come and get me. . . .”
T SAW red then. I saw a lot of other
1 colors, all on the bird, and I had a
wild desire to tear that bird in two. I
stalked forward, grabbed the bars and
twisted, even though I knew I was be-
ing foolish. After all, even a dope like
me could see they were made to hold
something a lot stronger than a bird.
But I was mad . . .
They bent as though they were made
of spaghetti. There was a last raucous
crow of delight, a flash of color past
my eyes and the voice of the bird behind
“Thanks, pal. I was getting tired of
being a bird in a cage. Me, without no
gilt . .
I whipped around and there was our
little feathered friend perched on the
shoulder of Luria. I was still seeing red.
I gave him a fiendish look (I hoped)
and stalked toward the two. Luckily,
Hank stopped me.
“Aah, let ’im come,” the bird said.
“I’ll tear ’im in two, or three. I got
lots of numbers.”
“But only one life, bird. You ain’t a
cat. Just remember that,” I mumbled
The parrot cocked his head to one
side, gave Luria a sidelong look from his
bright eyes and said:
QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD
“Where’d you find the squares, beau-
tiful? What dopes! Especially the one
“Oh, Groana Bird,” Luria said. “We
have searched long for you. The days
are dark on Pola since my father left to
join his soul-mates . .
That blasted bit of feathers and beak
just couldn’t keep quiet.
“That’s what I kept tellin’ the old
boy. Better watch your knittin’ or
they’re gonna take that sweater apart
before you’re through with it. So he
perled when he shoulda knit and see
what happened. But like yap-jaw says,
this dungeon’s beginning to give me the
creeps. And I’ve been here a lot longer
than he. So . .
Luria’s sigh of happiness, as she
turned and started back, was like a song
to Hank. He stepped close to her side
and grinned down at her from his van-
tage of two inches with a grin that had
it been wider would have set his ears
on the other side of his head. Oh, well,
I thought, now that the worst is over
and we ain’t got nothing else to do ex-
cept pick up the marbles, maybe she’ll
send us back and I can finish that story
for Fa . . .
* * *
They whistled up the dead woman’s
paavan for me and with the bird still
perched on Luria’s shoulder we started
on the way back. Once more we moved
through the valley of the mists but this
time the terror was gone. Again we came
to the tortuous path along the shoulder
of the steep mountain side. And this
time, like with all dangers circumvented,
it seemed not quite so frightening. I
even found myself whistling as the
sleek, sure-footed panthers trotted
along. We passed a twisted tree I re-
membered was not far from where we’d
come off the main trail. And in a very
short while we were on the broad trail
leading back to Gayno.
At ease, now, I noticed things which
had escaped me before. To our right
some hundred yards, a wide river fol-
lowed a winding path and now and
then I could see the swirling muddy
waters. To our left the grass grew thick
and rank, sometimes higher than a
paavan’s shoulder. I remembered how
the women rose from the midst of grass
like this and thought what an excellent
ambush it would make. We were run-
ning on what I called, a path. I called it
that for want of another name. Really
it was a flattened area among the other
Soon we came to the short bit of
parkland which once traversed, would
lead us to the wider path back to Gayno.
The path wound among the trees for
perhaps a mile. Then we saw open
reaches and shortly the trees thinned
and we were racing in the open again. A
soft wind ruffled my hair, the air was
not too warm and the sun held a bright-
ness which unlike ours did not irritate.
For the first time in this strange land
I felt peace. But not for long.
'T’HERE must have been a thousand
of them. They descended on us like
flies. Luria was the first to see them.
Some sixth sense warned her of their
proximity, for suddenly she drew Mo-
kar up sharp, raised a hand on high as
a signal to halt, and as the ambush
rose about us, shouted a warning. But
it was of no avail.
We had been running with some five
yards between each rider. There was no
chance to get to Luria. I found myself
surrounded by dozens of Loko’s men. I
glimpsed Captain Mita up ahead close
to Luria. Then hands were reaching for
my bridle. I had no chance to get my
sticker out but my fists weren’t tied
down. I must have knocked ten of them
silly before someone thought to use the
hilt of a sword on my noggin. I saw
more stars than the heavens held, and in
a twinkling the darkness of uncon-
I was being joted like a monkey on
a stick. My head rocked from side to
side like someone was using it for a
metronome. I had been strapped to
what was undoubtedly the worst smell-
ing man in all Pola. His stench was un-
bearable. I peered through bleared eyes
at a long line of warriors strung out
ahead of us. I managed to turn my head
and saw that the line behind us was al-
most as long.
There was someone ahead swearing
a blue streak. I couldn’t make the words
out but it didn’t take long for me to
recognize the voice. Good old Groana!
He was telling them a thing or two. A
lot of good it was doing, I thought. This
time we wouldn’t get off so easy. What
was more, Loko had Luria now. I be-
gan to wonder what he wanted of her.
We came to a fork in the road which
had widened, and took the right turning.
After a while we came to a broad mead-
owland. Tents had been set up in well-
laid sections like streets or, suddenly I
knew what, a military encampment. To
our right as we entered, was a stockade
where I saw a huge number of the
strange beasts they used. Sentries were
posted every few yards. Their disci-
pline was excellent. The warriors de-
ployed to their respective areas, leaving
some ten to guard us as we followed
Captain Mita, the giant who had
slapped me around, and Loko. We drew
up before the most pretentious of the
tents. This proved to be Loko’s personal
They had to cut me loose from the
guy I was with and whoever did the
cutting didn’t give a hang whether or
not he got some skin with it. In fact
he laughed heartily as I yelped more
than once when the sticker drew blood.
But the moment I was on my feet all
merriment ceased. The point of the
man’s sword tickled my spine all the
way into the shady confines of the tent.
The appointments were simple, a
couple of easy chairs of good design,
with cushions for seats; several benches
of plain wood, and a dozen low hassocks
scattered about served for seats. The
back wall of the tent was guarded by
five men and a like number of women-
warriors. They stood stiffly at attention,
spears held firmly in one hand while the
other was at their hip in readiness to
grab at the sword if needed.
Loko and the big guy found seats side
by side at the far end of the tent. Loko
grunted tiredly and said:
“My years are too many for these
strenuous doings. Ye have given me a
merry chase. Perhaps it was well that ye
escaped the pit. For surely we would not
have found our quarry so easily. And
better, the prize she carried. Ho, guard,
bring the holy bird to me. . . .”
tttE WERE standing in a close
’ ’ group, Hank, Luria, her guard and
myself. The bird was still perched on
Luria’s shoulder. We had been stripped
of weapons. As the guard stepped to
Luria’s side Hank took a single step
forward and knocked the character
right on his seat.
“Atta boy. Hit ’im one for me,” the
Groana shouted raucously. “Kick ’im in
Loko’s voice was low, seemingly
without anger, yet I felt a shiver:
“Ye have used force before. Shall we
be compelled to answer in the same?”
“No!” Luria’s answer was a clarion
call. “Enough of force. For hundreds
of years Pola has known nothing else.
You decry the use of it yet never feel
any compunctions about using it when
it avails you best. By my father’s name
I swear the bird will avail you nought.
There are other means of freeing Pola
QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD
from your tyranny.”
I wanted to cheer. For the first time
I felt an admiration based on valid
reasons, for Luria. She was all right.
The big guy up there with Loko
thought so too. He let out a wordless
bellow and rose to his feet.
“By the Groana Bird!” he shouted.
“Loko. Your word. I want that woman,
“Over my dead body!” came the
answer from my side. It was good old
Hank. Good old Hank and his good old
big yap. Wasn’t he ever going to learn
to keep it closed? He got the only reply
the other character could have given.
“I shall be only too glad to arrange
that,” the big guy said.
“Enough, Wost!” Loko broke in.
“Brawls are for those in their cups. Save
it for then. Now then. Enough of this.
Bring the bird up here.”
This time no one raised either fist
or voice when two of the guards
stepped out and took the bird from
Luria’s shoulder. The one who was car-
rying the bird carried it gingerly and
when he got to Loko handed it to the
old man with fingers that shook palpa-
bly. There was the strangest look of
triumph on Loko’s face as he got the
“Now,” and this time his voice was
raised in ecstasy, “now I shall rule. By
the sign of the Holy Groana Bird. By
the sign of his feathers, by the sign of
his wisdom and by the sign of my pos-
session. . .
“Aah, nuts,” said the parrot unex-
“Holy Bird,” Loko said in tones of
awe, as though the goofy parrot had
said something beyond his comprehen-
sion, “say more in your infinite wis-
“Is this character square?” the bird
asked. “Why don’t he get the score
straight? Boy, oh boy! How did this
oldy get dealt in?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “Maybe you
can arrange his getting dealt out?”
“That’s allroony with me, allreeti,
allreeti,” Groana Gaillard said.
J^OKO kept shifting his glance from
the bird to me and back again as
we carried on. His fingers tapped nerv-
ously together in constant motion and
his brow showed irritable corrugations
in his effort to understand.
“What does he say?” Loko asked me
in petulant tones.
“Ingimsay an ongsay,” Hank shot at
me from the side of his mouth.
“The Holy Bird says,” I began as
portentiously as I could, “that he is
weary and needs rest.”
“But of course,” Loko made haste to
fall in to the suggestion. “May he for-
give an old man’s stupidity. Many,
many years have passed in his incar-
ceration. May the memory of the man
who enslaved him become dust in our
mouths, a stench in our nostrils.”
“Gadzooks!” Groana Pistole said.
“The varlet needs a cup to wander in.
’Pon my soul ! An’ by my Lud Harry,
with whom I spent many a roistering
night, get him one and fill it with the
dregs of the grape so that Merry Eng-
land shall have peace this day.”
“Peace? Peace?” Loko said. “He de-
“Aah! Shut up!” the bird said and
bent and nipped Loko on the lobe of
the nearest ear.
“He means quiet,” I said. “And if I
am allowed a word . . .?”
Loko held one hand to his wounded
ear and said:
“Say on. . .
I decided that formality was the note
to strike. Loko liked it well:
“The Holy Bird has some small af-
fection for the girl. Since it is obvious
she cannot escape, perhaps it were best
that he stay with her.”
“No! I do not trust her. Further, she
is, as are the rest of you, my prisoners.
I have as yet not decided the disposi-
tion I intend of ye.”
“ ’Tis a sorry day f’r the Irish, me
lad,” Groana Fitzgerald said. “An’ sure
an’ if it’s the last act of me life I’ll kiss
the Blarney Stone on me hands and
knees but let me have a chance at a
shillalah. . .
“You see, Loko,” I said in triumph,
“another word, a single syllable of de-
nial to his desires, and he promises to
call on the holy Blarney Stone. Believe
me. Woe betide anyone accursed by the
Loko blanched to the color of wet
ivory at the words. The only one of the
three, Loko, Mita and Wost, who
showed no alarm at the words, was
Wost. But then he was probably too
dull-witted to know fear.
“But of course, of course the Holy
Bird can stay with the girl,” Loko said
quickly. “I was but thinking of its se-
“Is that schmoe kidding?” Groana
“What does he say? What does he
say?” Loko asked. He was like a kid
before a mike without a quizmaster.
“He says he’s tired and wants to
rest,” I said.
“Assuredly. Assuredly,” Loko said,
shaking hands and head at the same
time. “The time for sleep has come.
Captain Mita. Escort the prisoners.”
“Guests might be a better word,” I
said, being brave all of a sudden.
For the first time Loko showed anger.
His eyes blazed for an instant, then hid
themselves behind hooded lids. His
voice held an icy edge when he said:
“Prisoners. . . . Do not try my pa-
tience. . . .”
I shrugged my shoulders in a ges-
ture of bravery I certainly didn’t feel. I
knew I was shaking, quivering in fear,
yet somehow, I managed to say in quite
“Okay. Let it be like you say. Only
let’s stop with all this talk. I said the
bird was tired. Do we have to talk some
more about that?”
“Take them to their quarters,” Loko
Captain Mita and his men played es-
cort. It was just to another tent, one
not too far from Loko’s. There was no
question, however, that we were going
to be prisoners. Mita posted enough
guards around the tent to guard an
army. They stood shoulder to shoulder
in a huge square, and within that square
another, these, backs to the others, and
also shoulder to shoulder.
This tent didn’t have the accommo-
dations Loko’s had. It was not to be
expected. But there were several cush-
ions. Luria and her personal guard took
those. I hid a smile. Here were a couple
of dames who were doing their best to
act like men yet used a woman’s per-
rogative immediately the chance pre-
sented itself. Hank and I found the
ground hard but not too much so.
Very soon after we made ourselves
comfortable the feeling for sleep mani-
fested itself. It was a strange thing, this
feeling for sleep. There was no night
or day on Pola since the sun shone all
the time. And the business of sleep was
as regulated an affair as though there
had been passed a law about it. One’s
eyes became heavy, one’s every muscle
felt an odd relaxing and very soon aft-
erward one simply relaxed somewhere
and went to sleep.
The strangest part of it all was that
sleep was instantaneous all over Pola.
It was not up to the individual as to
when he slept. When one slept, all slept.
\ WAKENING, too, took place si-
multaneously. I yawned once or
QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD
twice, arose and stretched and looked
at the others. The parrot blinked its
eyes, cocked its head and said:
“Well, bless our little. . . . Say! how’s
about putting on the feed bag, kids?”
Luria and the other woman looked
to me. And I suddenly became aware
that I had been relegated to the par-
rot’s interpreter. Not that Hank
couldn’t understand, but I had assumed
the position in Loko’s headquarters. I
wasn’t too happy about it. But I wasn’t
in any position to do anything about it
“He just wants to eat,” I said sourly.
“Something wrong in that?” the bird
asked. “Or am I supposed to live on
“Aah, don’t get so fussy,” I said.
“How did you manage in that cave?”
“It was like this, short, dark and
ugly,” the bird said. “Believe it or not,
I was in a trance.”
“So put yourself back in a trance
again, and forget about feeding that
ugly face of yours,” I said.
I ducked just in time. Before the last
word had left my lips, Luria leaped for
me. She swung a little late. Hank got
there before she could swing again. She
was white-faced in anger.
“I listened to him berate the Holy
Bird yesterday and could barely contain
my anger. I did so because he is your
friend. But I can no longer contain my
“Daughter. . . . Daughter. . . .”
We all looked to the parrot, who at
Luria’s sudden move had hopped to the
hassock for safety. He was using a new
voice now. Low, deep, flexible, it was a
caressing voice, yet not a weak one. It
brought Luria up short. I heard her
whisper, “Father.” Then the bird was
“Have all my teachings been in vain?
Is anger the only vessel of those which
1 had placed at your disposal, the one
to be used? Anger blinds one’s senses,
disturbs the delicate balance of reason,
and as I once said, should only be used
as a dart is used, for purposes of irri-
“Surely is your predicament great.
Surely is the hand of the traitor, Loko,
heavy on your shoulders. He seeks the
enslavement of all Pola, yet in your
womanly manner you seek quarrels.
Bend all your energies to the frustra-
tion of his desires and ambitions. Use
these two whom you have brought from
another plane of time and space to your
help. Waste not their uses in arguments.
Once I taught you the eyes, ears, nos-
trils, and all other physical senses can
be tamed and put to the purpose for
which they were intended. How little
understanding was given to my teach-
ings. . . .”
“No, father!” Luria breathed sharp-
ly. “No. . . .”
“Perhaps. But had you been alert in
all your being, surely you would have
understood the badinage between this
man and myself. Silence would have
been my weapon had I been displeased.
But I think altogether, that perhaps the
true reason for your lack of understand-
ing lies in your having forgotten some-
thing I once said in your hearing.
“Daughter. Do you remember a day
you walked into a council meeting? You
sat at my feet and heard me tell them
about the Holy Groana Bird. It was the
first you heard of it. It was also the first
they heard of it. I told them that in this
bird was all the wisdom, past, present
and future. Then, as you sat and
watched I called for a slave to bring
the bird forth. They marveled at the
strange creature, for never had they
seen one with such plumage. That very
afternoon I spoke to you about trans-
migrations of bodies in space and time.
You were old enough, wuse enough and
learned enough even then to add to-
gether the ingredients of the pot and
come to the proper conclusion.
“For why, you should have asked,
has there never been another such bird
found? And how is it possible that this
bird alone, of all the feathered beings
in the world, is possessed of so much
wisdom? I thought you understood. I
was wrong. However, that is in the past.
The present is bleak indeed. Therefore
let us speak of the future. Loko has
naught but ill in his bosom for all of
you. Death lies across the threshold.
How shall we circumvent him?”
T ITTLE by little as the bird contin-
J “ / ued with his talk, we had drawn up
close around him. We were a very tight
circle about the hassock on which he
QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD
anger on her face, and
just as her fist shot by
aware of the loud cries
s it rose into the air . . .
“Daughter. Many years were spent
in the teaching of the paavan I gave
you. Mokar has the instincts of a wild
animal. But he has been taught reason.
Almost to the capacity of a human. He
as well as the mounts of Loko’s min-
ions, is in the stockade at the begin-
ning of the encampment. Send a thought
wave to him. Tell him to escape and
bring the rescuers to us . .
I glanced over my shoulder and saw
that Luria had her eyes closed. In a sec-
ond she opened them and smiled. She
shook her head as though she had fol-
lowed her father’s instructions.
. . Then let us wait as best we can
the coming of Jimno and the others. For
I think Loko has thought over the ar-
guments of your friend and has decided
it were best I were with him.”
The bird must have been psychic.
The words were scarcely out of his
mouth when the tent flaps were thrown
back and Mita entered at the head of a
squad of men. Without a word he
marched up and swept his hand down
and grabbed up the bird. The bird let
out a frightened squawk but before he
could utter another sound Mita drew a
hood from his belt and threw it over the
parrot’s head. In the meantime his
squad stood guard with drawn swords
over us. We had no chance to do any-
thing about it.
“Tell Loko,” Luria said as Mita was
about to leave, “that it will do him no
good. The Holy Bird has a will of its
own. . .
Mita smiled craftily.
“I do not doubt that,” he said softly.
But it is only a bird. If none but Loko
hears the pearls of wisdom from its lips
who will deny them?”
“I will,” Luria said stoutly.
“A carcass has no voice or reason,”
Mita said, grunted softly at the star-
tled looks on our faces, and left.
“Why, those dirty, dirty. . . Hank
snarled and became silent for fear that
his words would offend their ears.
But I was way ahead of them. So that
was Loko’s game. I had to admire the
old character’s shrewdness. All he had
to do was slit the bird’s tongue. Then
who was there to say that Loko hadn’t
heard what he said he did? The bird
wasn’t going to be able to talk for itself.
And we wern’t going to be in any posi-
tion, at least not until the dead can be
resurrected, to be able to deny what
Hank was pounding a fist into a
palm. His grey-green eyes were bleak,
and his face had that stony look of in-
tense anger. I could almost read his
mind. Evidently Luria also could.
“There’s no use in empty and useless
speculations or threats,” she said. “We
are helpless until help arrives. So let
us be of good cheer.”
“But how do you know help will
come?” Hank asked.
She smiled and I thought of the Mona
Lisa. “Mokar will not fail us,” she said.
“Mokar . . .?”
“He is well on his way.”
“But that stockade,” Hank said.
“How was he able to, to . . .? But of
course,” understanding came to him, “I
only hope he will make it in time. I
think Loko won’t give us too much of
I stuck my two cents in:
“And Loko’s just the sort of guy
who’d keep us on tenterhooks, draw the
time out, let us think that maybe he
won’t cut our throats or whatever
they’re going to do, until the last second.
Somehow, though, I have an idea that
it won’t be too soon.”
A deep sigh turned our attention to
the gigantic woman who was standing
by Luria’s side.
“What’s wrong, Sanda?” Luria
“I’m hungry,” was the simple reply.
QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD
“The big gal talks sense,” I said. “So
T> UT food wasn’t to come for a long
time. We sat around, lay around,
talked, kept quiet, did everything to
make the time pass more quickly. Luria
and Hank got together in a corner and
found things in common. I gathered
without being told, that Hank was
pitching woo at her and from the look
on her face she wasn’t finding it hard
to take. But me, I was lost. The other
member of our party was built along
the lines of an overweight wrestler. Be-
sides, she was a little short of the grey
matter. About all there was for me was
some silent philosophy. And that’s
pretty difficult to do in my position.
When food did come there was
enough of it to feed an army.
“Like we’d asked for a last meal,”
I was taking a bite on something that
tasted pretty good. But at that I kind
of lost my appetite.
“Why don’t you gag yourself?” I
“How about you doing it?” he want-
ed to know.
“I got both hands busy, dope,” I
“So why don’t you try eating with
your feet? Ten fingers aren’t enough for
“Look, sponge-head,” I began edgily.
I didn’t like the tone of his voice. “I
didn’t ask to come along on the ride. So
don’t play Sad-Sack for my benefit. . . .”
“Oh, hell, Berk,” he said. “I’m
“Dont be square,” I said quickly.
“That was no joke, son.”
The two women kept giving us won-
dering glances. Luria could understand
the King’s English, but our version was
over her head. The other gal was just
size, no quality, except in muscle, of
course. Suddenly the thought came to
me how to make time pass. Talk, I had
discovered long ago, is the finest de-
vourer of time.
“Y’know,” I said, “I’ve always been
curious as to how you managed this
business of, now I’m here, now I’m not.
Just how do you do it?”
Tiny furrows formed between her
eyebrows as she concentrated in an ex-
planation which would be simple
enough, yet explanatory:
“Oddly enough,” she said, “it’s a
great deal more simple than you would
imagine. Yet in one sense, more com-
plex. You see, the whole thing is a mat-
ter of, shall we say, mind over mat-
ter. . . .”
“So you said and you’re glad,” I
broke in. “Elucidate on this bit of men-
“. . . But because it is mind triumph-
ing over matter the explanation is far
more difficult than, say, the process of
digestion,” she went on as though there
hadn’t been an interruption.
“Now I understand,” I said. “How
simple the whole thing is, dear. But
you’re so clever. . . .”
“Let her be, Berk,” Hank said. “Go
“Baby?” The word wasn’t new to her
but its connotation in the sense Hank
“A term of endearment,” I said. “But
as Hank says, go on.”
“Yes-s. . . . Well. I simply think the
object or person into another dimension
of space and time. And that is the whole
thing put as simply as I can.”
“Fine. I don’t get it! Tell me this
now. When we first saw you, you were
dressed in clothes very much the same
as the women wear on our planet.
How’d you do that?”
“I realized the instant the transposi-
tion took place and I saw the manner
of dress of your women that I would be
taken for a stranger. Not knowing the
customs of your planet or country, I
knew I had to do something about it.
So I . . .”
VtOW wasn’t that like a woman, I
' thought. Give her a joke to tell and
she’s a cinch to forget the pay line ; give
her a story and at the most interesting
part she’ll get that far-away look like
as if she’d just remembered something
she saw in a blouse and couldn’t quite
remember the shop. It was Hank, how-
ever, who nudged her on:
“So you what?”
“I lost my material self,” she said.
I thought I heard right. But I wanted
to make sure:
“You dood? Lucky you found it.
What do you mean?”
“I mean I was no longer flesh and
blood. For example, the outfit I wore.
I got that from a shop on a city avenue.
I remember it was dark and I simply
walked in through the masonry and
glass, took the outfit I wanted and left.
It was not the time for sleep so I walked
about. I also remember an experiment I
performed. This disappearance of ma-
terial self was new to me. There was a
man coming toward me. I walked
straight at and through him. I remem-
ber it so well because he was with a
woman and they were holding a conver-
sation. He did not lose a word as I
stepped through him.”
So there were ghosts. They all come
from Pola. H’m. Could that mean there
was no Heaven, no Hell, just Pola? Aah.
What was I thinking? Hank, it devel-
oped, wasn’t thinking what I was.
“How simple it all is,” he said. “All
you have to do is dematerialize, step
through the tent and escape.”
“I thought of that and . . . No. We
are all in this together. So we’ll remain.”
“But Loko will put you to death,”
Hank pointed out.
“When that bridge is on us we’ll
think about the crossing. Let us wait
to see what Mokar brings.”
“I don’t know what he’s bringing,” I
said. “But I hope he makes it fast. My
patience is running out.”
“Then you’ll have to renew it,” Luria
said sharply. “Mokar might have come
to Jimno in the midst of an engagement.
What’s more, they have to be certain
that the children are in a safe place;
that there will be enough guards; then
they must locate Lovah and her
force. . . .”
“Lovah? Coming here?” I asked.
“But of course. Jimno’s forces will
not be enough.”
The whole situation was bathed in a
new light. I was light-hearted Joe,
ready for a lark or a wrestle, but now
that my Lovah-honey was going to be
involved — well! Things were shaping
up. And not to my liking, either.
“But holy cats!” I said. “Even with
Lovah’s warriors there won’t be enough
to make a decent fight.”
“It will be a combination of several
factors,” she pointed out. “In the first
place there will be the element of sur-
prise; secondly, Jimno and Lovah will
not attack from the same direction; and
thirdly, there is the factor of the
paavans. . . .”
I asked what they had to do with it.
“They were bred not for riding
alone. Wait,” she promised. “You will
see how terrible they can be.”
Hank got to whispering to her again
so I sat in my little corner and digested
what she told me. Maybe we had a
chance. Then I got to thinking of the
parrot and how she was going to man-
age to get him out of Loko’s clutches.
Hang it! I kept thinking of the bird as
a material being. It was Luria’s father,
of course. Then I thought how silly that
was, especially if one said it aloud.
Then I stopped thinking.
QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD
Again time marched on. Suddenly I
saw Luria place her hand to Hank’s
lips. He stopped talking and I stopped
dreaming. She had heard something,
something to which our Earthly ears
were not attuned. She arose with a
movement akin to one of her paavans,
she rose lithely and stepped toward the
tent opening. The rest of us followed
“They come,” she whispered. “I hear
them in my mind. I don’t know their
plans, so be prepared for anything.”
0 HE warned us. But what happened
^ was the last thing I thought would
happen. Fire arrows . . .1
There must have been hundreds of
them. They fell with tiny hissing sounds
and whatever they touched burst into
flame. In an instant the entire com-
pound was a mass of fire and smoke.
But we didn’t wait to see what was go-
ing to happen next. Not us. We were the
Rover Boys and gals, and we roved but
fast, to hell and gone out of there.
A torment of sound stuck our ear-
drums as we hit the open air. There were
the terror-stricken sounds of men and
women caught in the inferno, and above
those were the horrible screams of ani-
mals tied to stakes and unable to es-
cape. A pungent acrid odor came to my
nostrils, an odor hard to place until I
brought to mind a roast that had be-
come too well-done.
I was just standing, listening open-
mouthed to the horror around me, when
1 heard a wild scream of exultation al-
most in my right ear. I pivoted and saw
Luria, her face transfigured, looking
straight down the avenue formed by the
rows of tents. I understood her cry of
triumph when I saw what was sweeping
down the avenue. Mokar, riderless, was
in the lead and directly behind him was
Lovah and Jimno riding neck and neck
in a wild race to get to us first.
Mokar paused only long enough for
Luria to mount and get Hank up behind
her and then, headed straight for the
center tent, Loko’s quarters. Lovah,
looking like one of the Valkerie, only
prettier, paused long enough for me to
get on behind, then she was off after her
queen. She handed me one of the two
swords she held clenched in each of her
dainty, though dangerous, fists.
She raised hers on high and screamed '.
“For the Queen! Death to Loko and
But it wasn’t quite that easy. Cap-
tain Mita and the giant were no stupes.
They were caught flat-footed, shocked
with surprise. But it didn’t last long.
Only long enough for them to start a
dispersal of their forces. And the first
thing they did, as though they realized
the whole purpose of the attack, was
to ring Loko’s tent with guards. We
rode, like the six hundred, into the jaws
I don’t know how many Luria had
at her disposal; I had no chance to
count even if I wanted to, but certainly
they weren’t many. We hit the outer
shell of the ring with the force of a bat-
tering ram, broke through and were
swallowed by the inner rings. And, baby,
were those guys and gals tough! Loko
hadn’t picked these babies for their
kindness to their fellow-beings. They
played the woodchoppers ball pretty
good with their stickers.
By some quirk of fate Loko’s tent
was one of several the fire-arrows had
missed. All around us the other tents
blazed in fury. I caught a quick glimpse
of them, then had no time for anything
but the defense of my life and Lovah’s
too. Her arm was swinging a death tune
to whoever was within reach of that
terrible plaything. As for me, I was also
swinging, maybe not with the assurance
or ease of Lovah, but with as terrible
effect. As I said before, I had discovered
a strange thing about Pola. My strength
was multiplied ten-fold for some rea-
son, and though I did not always hit a
vulnerable spot, the power of my blow
when it did land was enough to decide
the issue immediately.
But there was only one of me and
Hank. The sheer weight of their num-
bers, plus the addition of reinforce-
ments which kept arriving, lost us the
encounter. A shrill whistling sound was
suddenly heard and Lovah’s face turned
to mine with a dismal look of despair
on it. I heard her words:
“Retreat! Luria calls retreat. . . .”
't'HEN her mount’s head was turned
and we were racing like the wind
back down the avenue of tents for the
open ground beyond. We raced into the
flat and kept running. I kept turning
my head and saw Jimno. My heart
leaped in my throat in sudden terror. I
couldn’t spot Hank or the girl. My pulse
raced in time to the bounding paces of
Lovah’s paavan when I saw them at
last. They were the last two out of the
compound. Like a true queen, Luria had
waited till the last of her subjects were
away before she retreated.
We continued running at top speed
for quite some time. As we raced on-
ward endlessly Lovah gave me a resume
of what had happened:
“Jimno is wonderful. A born leader.
He caught the rear guards who had been
left in town flat-footed. They hadn’t a
chance, and we mashed them to bits.
Then we did an abount face, ran in dif-
ferent directions, met at the rendezvous
and made for the groups which we
knew would be scouring the countryside
for us. One by one we smashed them
until at the end they were forced to
join together. That was the moment for
the third part of our forces to strike.
The enemy was tired; we had fought
them to a stand-still, and when the fresh
forces attacked, they fled. Only to be
met,” she ended proudly, “by the
paavans we let loose. Aah! The terror
and destruction our wondrous paavans
I could well imagine. I’d seen those
gigantic panthers at work only a short
while before, and what they could do
to human flesh was not pretty.
She went on:
“. . . But we were still too-few. Loko
must have enlisted the aid of every war-
rior on Pola. More and more kept com-
ing. Their sheer numbers would have
lost any pitched battle. We had to let
off finally. Then came the message from
our Queen. . . .”
I looked from side to side and tried
to gauge how many there were of us. It
couldn’t be done. We were strung out
in a long line and since we were run-
ning in the flat which reminded me of
the prairie of a midwestern state, many
of them were out of sight In the hip-
“Are we retreating to some plan?” I
“Yes. The Great Forest lies ahead.
Not even the bravest of all the warriors
on Pola would dare venture in its
depths. Ambush is only a matter of hid-
ing behind a tree. Loko isn’t that big a
A FTER a while Luria’s forces
merged until we were no longer
stretched out in a long line although we
were still riding loosely in groups of
ten or twelve. Both Luria and Jimno
rode their mounts close so that the three
of our paavans were running abreast.
Luria seemed dispirited. Hank had
his mouth close to her ear and I could
see he was trying to break her mood.
Maybe I know more about dames than
Hank does. At any rate I put my two
“Cheer up, kid,” I said. “We haven’t
QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD
lost yet. . .
“We won’t lose at all!” she said. “I
wasn’t thinking of how the battle
stands. It’s, it’s . . .”
I divined her worry. That silly bird.
H’m! To her it wasn’t silly at all. It was
her father . ... I kind of grinned and she
“He smiles,” she said grimly. “He is
more brave even than I thought. The
moment is dark and your friend smiles,
Hank. He is a man.”
“He’s a damn fool,” Hank said. But
his eyes were twinkling in fondness.
Henry Fondness, I called him. “He just
doesn’t know when to worry.”
“The only thing I worry about is
meeting a deadline for Ray Palmer,” I
replied. “But that wasn’t what I was
thinking about. I think I know what’s
bothering our pretty Queen. The bird.
Aha! I was right. . .
She had turned her head in surprise.
“. . . Well. I’m not raising an issue,
understand, when I say stop beating
that pretty head against a wall. The
bird is just one of the many things that
I don’t understand about this place. But
you understand. That’s what counts. So
it’s simple. He says he’s your father.
Then surely he won’t play tricks with
you. Loko seemed greatly impressed
“You forget,” she broke in. “All Loko
has to do is wring the bird’s neck . .
Hank was ahead of us both.
“He can’t,” Hank said. “The bird is
a symbol known to everyone. But unless
a symbol is visual it loses its signif-
icance. Your father was more than just
smart. He gave himself the body of a
bird the likes of which can’t be found
anywhere on this planet. Loko won’t be
able to find a substitute so he’ll have to
let him live. He will probably rig some
sort of fol-de-rol about him being the
only one able to understand the bird’s
words, or perhaps the only one who is
allowed to converse with the bird. He
can’t afford harm to come to the bird.”
Of course my thoughts ran in an al-
together different direction. I’d been
puzzling about the bird without get-
ting any satisfactory answer. Maybe I
wasn’t supposed to. But if the old gent
had been such a world-beater in the wis-
dom line, he hadn’t proved it by doing
what he had. What was more, I didn’t
believe the bird. That business of imi-
tating Barry Fitzgerald, and the others
• — of course with four or five different
voices he would sound more mysterious.
On the other hand, if he was that smart
he should have been smart enough to
have known that Loko and any one else
who wanted to rule had but to find him
and such a situation that was now at
hand, would come about. There was
something not very bright about that
bird, or something too bright for me
Lovah whispered in an aside to me.
I didn’t hear her and she repeated:
“The Great Forest is at hand. Very
soon it will welcome us.”
I looked ahead and saw a wall of trees
which stood so close together not a
shred of light seeped into their depths.
“You could hide an army in there,”
“As I told you,” Lovah agreed.
“But how do we get in?” I asked.
“The paavans will find the path. This
is where we find them.”
CHE spoke the truth about the pan-
thers knowing their way. Straight
as a die they sped for the solid wall
ahead. As we came close the place
looked a little terrifying. We had to
stretch out again in a single line. Luria
took the lead, Lovah, with me grasping
her close about the waist a little more
tightly than usual, came next. I caught
a glimpse of Jimno holding up his
mount. I imagined he was going to cover
the rear. Then we were in the damp
darkness of the forest that was really
Strange cries rang out as we crossed
the border between light and darkness.
Rank odors filled our nostrils. It took
several seconds for our eyes to accus-
tom themselves to the gloom. Fitful rays
of light seeped through the tangled
foliage. But nowhere was to be seen a
single area even a few feet across on
which the blessed sun fell.
As we proceeded deeper I became
aware of hidden creatures, some quite
large, stalking us from the borders of
brush which were walls too thick to pen-
etrate. Now and then one of these crea-
tures let out a sound to betray its pres-
ence. There were roars which could
come only from the throats of a paavan,
shrieks which terrified because one
didn’t know or could imagine their own-
ers. My hair stood on end for so long
a time I thought it was starched.
“Where are we bound for?” I asked,
and suddenly realized I’d spoken in a
“In a little while we will come to our
trysting place,” Lovah said.
She knew what she was talking about,
all right. Quite suddenly the trees
thinned and I caught a vista of an im-
mense meadow. Then the trees closed in
again. But as though the glimpse of the
promised haven lent wings to the feet
of the paavans, they sped forward with
increased speed. Too much speed. Be-
cause when we passed the last line of
trees we were traveling at such speed
we couldn’t stop or disperse. The am-
bush which had been laid for us was
npHEY must have known of it. Or
perhaps Jimno and Lovah hadn’t
done such a good job, or perhaps, more
reasonably, they had tortured someone
into telling the hidden secret. But they
fell on us with the force of limitless
At least ten of them surrounded Lo-
vah and myself. They were mounted
on the monstrous lizard things. In the
still-tangled brush before the open
meadow, their mounts had the speed of
ours. It was the pay-off, I thought, as I
began to flay about me with the sticker
Lovah had given me.
The ones who surrounded my gal and
me were women. For the barest second
I had some misgivings about using the
sword in my fist. But only until one of
them missed me with a wild swing.
Then I swung. The blade went through
her like a knife going through soft but-
ter. Her mount kept moving forward
and for a second her body hung to-
gether. Then the top half separated
from the bottom and rolled off. But I
hadn’t time to gloat over it. These
dames were crazy. They’d spur up and
jab and swing, get in each other’s way,
all trying to knock us off at one time.
Lovah had gone to the proper school.
Her timing would have made Joe Louis
green with envy. Nor did she waste mo-
tions in wild swinging. Every stroke of
her sword was clipped and sharp. If
only I wasn’t behind her.
I proved the handicap. And the de-
noument. For in one of my wild swings
I knocked her off balance. And myself
off the paavan. I reached wildly with my
free hand, tried to maintain a semblance
of equilibrium, and in the end got
neither and fell off. The women fell on
me with savage screams of exultation.
How I managed to fight my way clear
of the forest of cleaver-like blades
which thirsted for my blood, is a mys-
tery to me. But somehow I did, to get
to a nearby tree. I wanted the protec-
tion of its thick trunk. I knew it was
only a temporary respite. Still I could
not give up hope.
That I did not escape to my tempo-
QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD
rary haven without damage went with-
out saying. Why Hank and I had never
exchanged our garments for the more
protective, though scantier garb of the
Polans, I do not know. But at that mo-
ment, with my back to the thick tree
trunk, I wished we had. I was bleeding
from several nicks and one gash; a
sword had ripped across the flesh of my
chest, splattering me with a crimson
rain. It wasn’t a mortal blow, only a
flesh wound, but I knew that if I didn’t
receive attention it would prove damag-
ing. Far more so than the other wounds
My shirt hung by scattered slivers of
blood-soaked threads to my body. One
sleeve had been torn completely away.
The blood had run down into my trou-
sers which were torn by the briars and
looked more ragged than a hobo’s. I
sweated and stank like a draught horse
on a hot summer’s day. And I was be-
seiged by a dozen women who thirsted
for my life. The instant I was unmount-
ed six others had come up on the run.
I hacked away inexpertly but with tell-
ing damage. And gradually the sheer
strength I displayed won both their
admiration and their respect.
I managed a quick glance around
during a short breathing spell. We
weren’t doing so well. I could see any
number of riderless paavans. Of Luria
and Hank nothing. . . . Then they were
at me again. Once more I took up the
seemingly endless task. And this time
it was harder. No longer did they come
at me together, getting in each other’s
way, fouling up their sword play and
making themselves easy marks for my
This time they came at me singly
and in quick succession. And on danc-
ing feet. My swings were a little wilder,
a little slower. I stopped after a mo-
ment and waited until one came in
range before swinging. Again they
changed their tactics. This time two
came at me at once, one from right and
the other from the left. And while I
tried to keep both off, two more came
from in front. I knew it was but a mat-
ter of a short while and they would wear
me down. Nor was I wrong. Three times
in a row I got the point of a sword in
me, not deeply, but damagingly.
T HAD a last resort. Hy speed afoot.
I could outrun them. Suddenly I
leaped straight forward. I jabbed twice,
missed one and got the second, and lost
my sword in the maneuver. It went in
too deeply and I had no time to pull it
free. But I no longer cared. For coming
toward me at a full gallop, was Lovah.
I had lost sight of her after I had been
knocked off her paavan. I could see as
we rushed to meet each other that she
too had not escaped unscathed from the
fray. One arm hung limp, there was a
bloody streak across the firm white flesh
of a shoulder. But her eyes were ablaze
and her face alight.
We were almost at meeting’s point
when I suddenly sprawled face down-
ward in the marshy loam I was in. A
creeper had tripped me. I struggled to
get to my feet. But after two tries my
knees gave way and I fell, rolling to
The sky, seen through the filigree of
black branches never looked so blue.
Of course there were mo clouds, just the
cerulean blue which merged into the
gold of the eternal sun. All this in the
space of seconds. Then another some-
thing intruded into the scope of my
vision. It was only a sidewise glance.
Terror and death was coming my way.
The most gigantic woman I’d ever seen
was leaping toward me on huge splay
feet, in her hand a sword fully ten feet
long. Her expression was demoniac with
transfigured fury. Her great breasts
were bare and like those of monstrous
cattle. I was powerless to move. The
sweat was a sour river pouring down
my face, saturating me in its stench. I
felt a horror beyond words as she
slid to a halt at my very side. Then the
sword was lifted high above her head,
her both hands clenched about the hilt.
. . . Eons went by, worlds were born
and died, civilizations crumbled and
death marched to mufflled drum beats
and stepped before me and bared its
horrendous snout to my eyes and its
cavernous mouth opened to swallow me
. . . and the sword shot downward!
I heard the thin screech and swish
of it, felt its cold breath on my cheek
but saw it not. My eyes were closed for
that infinitesimal instant. They opened
and I saw its silvery length quivering
and undulating beside my cheek like a
frustrated pendulum. To one side stood
the giantess her hands tight about the
blade of a sword which stuck out of
both sides of her thick throat. She was
trying to free her flesh of its grasp.
Then her hands fell to her sides and a
thick stream of blackish-blood poured
from her mouth, her nose, her throat,
and enveloped her in a redly-funereal
“Quickly!” a voice came from above
I looked dazedly in its direction.
There she was, my Lovah, a delight to
my eyes and a balm to my soul and a
saviour of my flesh. Her hand, firm
and strong as a man’s reached down
and took my lax fingers and hauled me
erect. I let myself go limp across the
thickly-muscled shoulders of her paa-
van. Her fingers fell lightly across my
sent courage coursing through me. I bent
my head back and she brought her face
down and once more our lips met, not
as they had before, in passion, but in
the gentle caress of true love.
Her hand lay across my shoulder as
we turned to face the enemy. Fear had
been banished from our hearts though
our arms were gone from us. . . .
They surrounded us. They were
many and though they were armed and
we were not they moved carefully, as
though they could not believe our state
or the fact that there were only two of
us. We waited for their stings to bite
us. . . .
“Alive! Take them alive!” one of
them called unexpectedly. “The man is
the one who escaped the Pit!”
r T HE beast across which I lay stank
to high heaven. I was bound hand
and foot and lay belly down across its
rump. Behind me rode one of the Ama-
zons. Somewhere behind Lovah rode
prisoner also. Now and then we passed
clumps of dead and though it was im-
possible to count them, I could see
when the bobbing motion of the elk-
lizard allowed, that the greater part of
the heaps of dead were Lok’s people
rather than Luria’s. Not that I re-
ceived any consolation from it. Now
that I had passed safely through
the period of shock following the
battle, I could see again with at least
a small measure of equanamity what
lay ahead. The future to put it in tech-
nicolor, wasn’t very bright. In fact
someone had exposed the film before
shooting. For some reason I had
stopped bleeding. I was on the weak
side but at least I wasn’t going to bleed
to death. Hooray for me, I thought.
They’re probably saving me for a fate
worse than death. I wouldn’t have given
a hang had it not been for Lovah.
Oddly enough our ride was shorter
than any I had gone on willfully or oth-
erwise. Whether my senses had dulled
to time in this strange land or whether
the ride was short it didn’t take us
long. The pueblos of Loko’s town hove
into view shortly.
There were lines of people waiting
QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD
our arrival. I could feel their hatred
though I could not see them. I could
feel as we passed through the oddly
silent cordon of hating men, women and
children, that we were the objects of
their hate, and possibly of their re-
venge. I could understand it too. We,
Jovah and I, were the symbols of the
death many of Loko’s people met. Oh,
it was true that we weren’t directly re-
sponsible. But we were here, and we
were prisoner. We rode a gamut there
under the hot sun and not a finger was
raised in our defense. I heard Lovah’s
first shriek of pain, her first outcry.
There were no more : I suffered the tor-
tures of the damned until we reached
our goal. For from my own experience,
I knew what Lovah must have gone
through. They had used their fists,
clubs, their teeth and nails and feet on
me. Stones had pelted me until it seemed
as though there wasn’t a whole bone in
my body. But I was damned if I’d let
a single sound of pain escape me. And
Lovah had allowed only the first cry to
pass her lips.
Those were the physical things. There
were dirtier, nastier things, ordure and
worse which stung us. But at the end we
came within the orbit of Loko’s palace
and some small measure of safety from
the brow'd. Our bonds were cut and even
as I staggered around on stumbling feet
I saw that Lovah was all right. But they
gave us no rest. Once more I met the
long halls and corridors of Loko’s pal-
ace. And once more we were dragged
before the dais on which stood the table
and throne. This time Loko, Captain
Mita and the giant warrior sat without
their women. I gathered it was a change
Loko no longer looked the benevolent
old man. His face was no longer benign
or wise. It was twisted in an expression
of absolute rage. Saliva, white-frothed
like foam had gathered at the corners
of his mouth and hung suspended like
“Little beasts! . . . Animals! . . .
Traitors, she-devil and he-devil ... You
thought to make small of me . . . but my
trap caught you. . . . Ahh ! That they did
not make it strong enough for the arch-
devil woman, Luria. But she will not
escape long. Already they seek her. . . .
She will be found. By her hair, by her
toe nails will I have her dragged before
me ! And also her consort, the devil from
another world! ... He didn’t bring a
magic more powerful than what I pos-
“Aah, shut up!” I snarled up at the
shrieking old loon. “You sound like
you’re losing your marbles. Not that
you ever had any.”
M Y WORDS stopped the tirade. I
" LVA thought I caught a gleam of ad-
miration in Mita’s eyes. But the old
man had the floor and he was going to
keep it. Suddenly he grinned and I no-
ticed for the first time that he had no
teeth. Well, after all if I were as old as
he I don’t imagine I’d have any either.
“The fool teaches the wise,” he said.
“You are quite right, my friend. . . .”
“Don’t call me friend,” I said sharply.
“. . . I permitted my emotions the up-
per hand. But only for the moment. In
anger. Now they must savor another
pleasure. This one, however, I had
promised myself on your first escape. I
had thought to hold myself until I had
your friend and the woman, Luria, alto-
gether. . . .”
Once more I broke in:
“I’ll never dance at your wedding,
you old goat, but I hope to caper at your
“. . . but since that isn’t possible at
this moment, I will contain myself for
the present. Of course I must have the
satisfaction of a partial enjoyment.
Slaves! The whips!”
I was too weak to fight. I was too
weak to even stand. But I was damned
if I’d give way. Not so long as there was
breath in my body, or so I thought.
They bound us together face to face.
Not just our hands and feet but strands
of wire-rope about our waists and legs
also. I could see the man who had the
whip to be used on Lovah and she could
see the one who was to do the dirty work
on me. But neither could see their re-
spective whippers. They shoved us
around until they had us satisfactorily
arranged to Loko’s liking.
“Lean your head on my shoulder,” I
said. “If it gets bad, honey, take a good
bite out of my shoulder, cry, sing, do
anything but scream. I won’t be able to
take that. . . .”
All the time I was talking I was wait-
ing. I had an idea the old devil on the
dais was going to give the signal for the
torture to begin by a nod of his head.
His mind operated that way. It was the
reason why he had us placed in profile
to those on the platform. He knew the
psychological torture we were going
I had always wondered what could
be the most terrible thing in the world.
I found it out then. Waiting! Just plain
waiting for anything. Especially when
you know it’s going to be unpleas-
ant. I could get a very unsatisfactory
glimpse of Loko and the others from a
corner of one eye. It wasn’t enough to
define movements, or even to see the
shake of a head, but I could see them.
As the seconds dragged by I tried to
turn my head to see more. The men who
had bound us were masters of their art.
So subtly had they wrought with the
strands of wire rope that though I could
move my head it was only to the part
of an inch. More, and I would strangle.
My attention was suddenly focused
on the bronzed giant who was standing,
whip in hand, behind Lovah. The mus-
cles in his arms and shoulders were like
those of some Atlas. He had stood im-
passive and immobile while others had
pushed us about. Suddenly he flexed
his arms, the muscles rippling, flesh-
like-water. The immensely long whip
coiled writhingly on the stone floor, as
though it were a snake in agony. I saw
then, that the lash was divided in three
parts, like a very long thonged leash.
He raised the whip and moved it about.
Faster and faster until it began to sing
in the air. Suddenly he snapped it. The
sound was like that of a pistol shot.
Lovah, who was unaware of what was
going on gave a startled movement of
fear. I looked in her eyes and grinned.
“Gonna be tough,” I said. “I love
you, honey. . . . It’s a hell of a time to
say that. But maybe it’ll help.”
“Love?” she whispered. “It is a
strange word. But we have such a word
here if I think it is what you mean. I
love you too, man of another world.
You are the first I have ever said that
to. Nor will I ever say it to another. I
was afraid only this moment. But now,
why, it is as though fear never existed.
Are we not together? Are we not bound
to each other, body to body? Surely, if
it is within the bounds of reason, so
will our souls be bound. But not with
strands of rope, but with the infinitely
greater fibres of love, as you call it. Do
not worry, man of mine, I will not cry
out, though they beat me to eternity.”
If I had had tears I would have shed
them. If I had had the strength to tear
myself from the prison they had bound
me in I would have ripped their tor-
ture cell to bits and them with it. But
I could not. I could do nothing but
wait. Wait. . . . THE TERROR OF
A WORD WHICH BECOMES A
r T' HEN there was no more waiting.
The word had been translated into
QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD
the deed. I heard the swish of the fibre
snake. It made an eerie whistling
sound as it zipped through the air. And
hit! . . .
For an instant the shock was so great
I could do nothing, say nothing. All I
could do was feel. Once I had written
of liquid fire being poured on someone.
I suddenly knew how that hero of the
pulps felt. Pain was like ecstasy, pain
was like suddenly losing the world one
was in and in an instant being brought
into another world. I didn’t even hear
the sound of the second stroke. Only
the feel of it.
Pain became translated into some-
thing else. Colors. First there was
blackness. Just an oily pool of black
into which your mind sank. That was
with the first blow. The second brought
a tinge of red into the blackness. After
the third I stopped counting. Just the
colors and the pain. Reds and purples
and black, always the black like a cur-
tain which burned when one went be-
hind of and out of it.
The pain was something else. It al-
ways began with the area which had
been hit, then spread. It was like the
thin sound of a single violin string
which had been plucked. The sound
leaps from the thin wood panelling and
spreads instantly in all direction. So
with the pain I felt. Every single inch
of me vibrated to the feel of pain.
Of a sudden I heard a voice.
Well, maybe it wasn’t a voice I
heard. Maybe it could best be called
a sound. Surely, I would have thought,
had I been capable of thinking, noth-
ing like that could be called a voice.
It wasn’t human, nor was it animal. I
knew what it was, though. It was the
sound of pain! It was the cry of the
tortured and the damned. It was the
sound of man being beaten, whipped,
terrorized. It was the cry of all human-
ity wrapped up in a single throat.
Oh, do not think there is no limit
to pain. There is. I began to develope
an odd immunity to it. Not that it
wasn’t always present. Only it became
pushed into the background. Taking its
place, as though in compensation, a
new world was conceived. It was a
strange world. There were only three
people in it, Loko, Lovah and myself.
The first glimpse I had of this
strange world took place as though on
a screen which had been shoved onto
my mind of a sudden. We were in some
sort of cave. The walls glowed redly
from the reflections of hidden fires.
Lovah, stark-naked, was dancing about
a figure bound to a stake. She was
brandishing a pitchfork. Another figure
stalked in from off stage somewhere. I
recognized myself. I watched myself
move forward toward the nude figure
cavorting about the stake and the man
tied to it. Then I wasn’t watching any-
more; I was myself walking toward
Lovah. She was singing a tune but the
words did not make sense:
“Old Loko’s hanging from a stake;
Old Loko’s but a broken rake.
Soon he’ll fry,
We must turn him.
Soon he’U fry,
Soon we’ll burn him.
Old Loko’s hanging from a stake;
Brittle bones, bones will break.”
From ten feet off I took an immense
leap, like that of a male ballet dancer,
and landed beside Lovah.
“Ho-ho!” I chortled. “We have the
old buzzard now, haven’t we? My pet,
I worked hard over the fires, but they’ll
make the labor worth it when we fry
him. Have you pricked him to see how
the juice runs?”
Lovah did a pirouette completely
around the old man tied to the stake.
She laughed gayly and a deep groan
echoed the light sound. The groan came
from Loko. At the sound Lovah
QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD
stopped dancing and I came close.
“Please,” the old man said. “Spare
this old greybeard. . . .”
“Grey beard,” I said in fine scorn.
“Why there isn’t a hair on that bald
dome of yours and not even fuzz on
that chiny-chin-chin you call a chiny-
“Rhetoric,” the old man replied.
“Merely rhetoric. A phrase. A passing
thought. But, and this is more to the
point, surely you would not harm an
old, old man like me.”
Lovah and I burst into delighted
laughter. She whirled lightly about me
and came to rest at my side, her eyes
laughing up to mine and her ilps invit-
ing a kiss. I accepted the invitation.
Loko groaned at sight of it.
“Oh, don’t pay any attention to the
old frastrate,” Lovah said. “He’s just
jealous. He’s just jealous because we’re
going to eat and he isn’t. . .
“Ho-ho,” I laughed again. “He isn’t
going to eat. He’s just going to be the
“Spare me! Spare me,” the old jerk
“Spear him! Spear him, he says.
Spear himmmmm. . .
r p HE words died away in a long
humming sound. The scene faded.
The world of fantasy collapsed. Only
the hum remained. I came back to real-
ity to the sound of that hum. And
found it was I who was making the
“. . . Berk ... oh, man of mine . . .
please! Hear me. . . .”
Her cheeks were dew-wet against
mine from the tears she had she. Her
voice was a sobbing entreaty which I
could not deny. Strange, I thought, and
it was the first time in the eons which
had passed that I had been able to
bring thought to my tortured mind. I
can no longer feel the whip.
Her voice went on, her breath tick-
ling my neck:
“. . . Stop doing that, Berk. Not any
more. I can’t stand it. I’ll break too if
you don’t stop. . . .”
“It’s stopped, honey,” I said. “Guess
I went off the deep end. What hap-
pened? The guy get tired?”
Her head went back and her eyes
were bright as stars and twice as beau-
tiful. Her lips managed a smile. But
two last tears coursed down the paths
others had sown and hung poised, like
wondrous jewels, on the curve of her
cheeks. I would have given the breath
of my life to lift my hands and brush
them into a cup to hold precious for-
“N-no. I think you fainted and Loko
told him to stop.”
“Well, that was nice of Loko. I can’t
say that I don’t appreciate it. I’m puz-
zled, though. . . .”
Her eyes asked a question.
“. . . My back,” I said. “It should
at least smart. But I don’t feel a thing.
Hey! Maybe I’m just numb from tak-
“No. They covered you with some
sort of salve. I saw them place it on
“Ho, slaves,” Loko suddenly an-
nounced he was still alive. “Undo the
bonds about the two but leave them
They turned us so that we were fac-
ing the three up there. That is I thought
there were three. It turned out there
were four. The fourth was one of the
women warriors. She was leaning over
Loko’s shoulder, talking earnestly to
him in low tones, accenting with her
hands actions she wanted to bring to
light. The other two were listening ab-
sorbedly also. Loko kept shaking his
head as though in agreement. After a
moment of this she turned and leaped
from the dais and strode from the room.
The three then brought their heads
together and after several seconds of
talk Mita and the other also rose and
departed. Loko turned his full atten-
tion to us:
“I suppose I must forego the balance
of this,” he said. “Matters of state have
come up. Of interest to you two also.
The she-devil, Luria and the rest of
them will soon be in my clutches. Per-
haps it is best that I save the two of
you for the time when there will be
other rebels and traitors to keep you
company. Throw them into adjoining
cells so that they might hear each
other’s agony. . .
r T"' HE instant the cell door clanged
A shut I rushed to the bars and called
“All right, baby?”
“Oh, yes. But now that the ordeal
is at end for you, I feel this prison. We
must break loose somehow.”
She had a great idea, my Lovah
honey had. There was but one thing
wrong with it. When Hank and I had
been thrown into this clink they just
QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD
left us there. Not this time. Directly
outside our doors about midway be-
tween them stood a guard against the
opposite wall. And now and then I saw
the shadow of a marching man pass
across the outside bars of our little
“I think we’re stuck here for a
while,” I said. “But always remember
that what sticks you can get unstuck.”
It was small consolation but it had
The sound of the warders who had
brought us to our cells died away in the
distance. The oddly quivering stillness
of the prison settled on us. I started to
turn from the bars to see what the land
looked like on the outside when I saw
our guard approaching. He placed his
face close to the door bars and whis-
“Loko is a traitor.”
“Yeah,” I said. “I know. ...” I
stopped and the light burst on me. One
of Loko’s own men calling him a trai-
tor. Hope kindled anew in my breast.
Lovah must have seen the man step to
my cell but she couldn’t hear what was
“Aye,” the guard said. “A deep-dyed
traitor. He has lied to us. The Holy
Bird has said so. I heard it. . .
“So?” I acted with reserve.
“It is not right. He tells the people
the Holy Bird says he is the rightful
“So why don’t you spill the beans.
I mean speak up! Tell someone who
can do something about it.”
“He would have me killed,” the
“Does anyone beside you know
this?” I asked.
“Yes. My brother. He was with me
when news of your capture came to
him. He told the Holy Bird in his mean
gloating voice about it. It was then we
heard. Loko must have forgotten our
“Where is your brother now?” I
“He will relieve me soon,” the man
“And you in turn will relieve him?”
“Do you think you can bring the
bird to me?” I asked.
He shook his head that he could. I
smiled but his face and eyes remained
grim. “Loko has gone on the field. It
is said that his forces have surrounded
the rightful Queen, Luria. It will be
some time before he returns. I will re-
Nor was it long before the brother
showed up. He brought with him trays
of food for us. The two of them divid-
ed up the time waiting on us which
amounted to their shoving the bowls
into our cells and waiting until we were
done. Then the first gathered up the
empty bowls and went off.
I paced the cell in what seemed in
endless procession until his return. He
carried the bird in the open, and
marched straight up to the cell, thrust
the bird in on me and said:
“Loko will wonder greatly where the
bird is. Nor will he know for a length
of time. Perhaps by then he may find
the means to escape him. Until then be
J WANTED to kiss the character.
What a sweet guy. Be at peace. It
was a long time since I’d heard that
phrase. I looked down at the parrot on
my wrist. The blamed bird seemed
asleep. Carrying carefully, I stepped
out of sight of the man on the outside
the cell. Our new-found friend had been
careful to make the transfer during the
time the outside guard was out of
My bunk was below window level. I
sat down and peered at the parrot.
Suddenly one eye opened and blinked
several times as though brushing the
sleep from its lids. Then the other eye
showed life also. We regarded each
other without change of expression for
several seconds. The bird was the first
to break silence:
“You’re about the ugliest man I’ve
ever seen,” it said.
I hadn’t known what to expect from
it, certainly not that. I felt the heat rise
all the way from my toes to my face.
As if I wasn’t having enough trouble,
this scrawny thing had to give me
“Brother,” I said. “Every time you
open your yap, every time you crack
that way, you lose ten years from your
life expectancy. Now why can’t you
“The truth will out,” the bird said.
“Nobody asked for it,” I said, my
voice rising a bit.
“I was just thinking of the future,”
the bird said. “The day of the woman
is past. Loko can’t lose. My daughter
can but stave off defeat for a certain
length of time. The inevitable must
happen. . . .”
A laugh that was as bitter as gall
choked me up. For the first time since
we’d come to this infernal place de-
spair bored a hole in my breast. This
bird was telling the truth and we were
going to pay the consequences. My
hand fell and the bird hopped off my
wrist and onto the bed. I saw then that
its wings had been clipped. Loko
thought of everything.
“. . . No,” it went on. “Loko can’t
lose. Yet oddly, he can’t win. A para-
“Who cares?” I asked.
“You do,” he said. “You want to
live, don’t you? The girl in the cell next
door; she makes life worth the strug-
gle, doesn’t she?”
I lifted my head.
“You have been beaten, whipped,
wounded. All in vain? You fought back,
but you lost. Now you have a valid
reason for fighting. I can see through
the veil of time, but because the veil
is not of one thickness alone, I cannot
see all the way. This I can see. A level
plain bound on two sides by a forest,
on the third by a river and the fourth
side by a deep valley.
“Two armies are drawn up on the
plain. They clash and all is confusion,
all is terror and all is lost to sight be-
cause they have lost their integral dis-
tinctions. They are mixed and are one.
Now they separate into distinct groups,
each fighting an individual war of its
own. Now from the forest comes a new
force. They are mounted on paavans
and they are all men. They ride, like a
spearhead of fate, into the thick of the
warring groups. They ride close, slash
off segments of these groups and ride
off before retaliation can be given. At
their head rides a bareheaded man with
the face of an eagle. His eyes are alight
with the look of a conqueror, and his
set features have the look of judgment.
Now others rally around his standards.
He becomes a wedge driving his sword
points deep into the heart of his enemy.
They scatter and flee and from all sides
are beset by their opponents and
chopped to bits.
“Now I see something which was not
plain before. A woman and man had
been the leaders before. They are no
longer there. They have disappeared. I
see them again and they are bound to
the mounts of a fleeing couple. The
woman is unconscious. . .
J DIVINED what he was trying to
tell me. Luria and Hank .... I rose
and slammed my fist into the wall and
the grey dust powdered and flaked
around my fist.
QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD
. . They are met by a company of
warriors riding toward the scene of
battle. Now all turn and make full
speed toward the rear. And in the lead
is an old man, a man I once knew full
well. Loko. . . .”
I bent my head:
“I’ve got to get out of here!” I grit-
ted harshly. “Do you understand? I’ve
got to get out of here ! And take Lovah
“Once you learned your strength,”
the bird said. “Have you forgotten it?”
I lifted him to my shoulders. His
clawed clutch bit deep into the flesh yet
I didn’t notice it. I waked straight to
the door and clutched with both hands
at the bars. Their coldness seemed to
defie me. The guard looked at me with
wonder in his eyes.
“The one outside will see you,” he
said with apprehension.
“Open the door,” I said. “We’re get-
ting out of here.”
I could read the indecision in his eyes.
Now I heard the shouted warning of the
one at the window. He had seen the bird
on my shoulder. I couldn’t risk waiting.
Setting my feet firmly I yanked with a
sudden pull in which all my strength
was exerted. There was a ripping sound
as the door was pulled from the stone
and I staggered backward, the weight
of the metal frame in my two hands.
Hurling it to one side I leaped forward
to face the astonished guard.
“With us . . .?” I asked.
He made up his mind. “Yes. My
brother, too. Shall I get him?”
“Yes. Quickly! But leave me your
sword and open the other cell first.”
Lovah flew into my arms and buried
her head on my shoulders. I let her rest
there for a few seconds. I could hear
the bellowing voice of the man outside
grow faint as he sped to spread the
alarm. But we had to wait the coming
of the brothers. But they did not come
alone. There were others with them, a
dozen others, all armed and all willing
to lay down their lives the instant they
saw the bird. Lovah was given a sword,
and with one of the brothers in the lead
we started on the road to freedom.
“Where are we bound for?” I asked,
as we ran full speed down the twisting
lengths of the corridors.
“The throne room,” one of the broth-
ers replied. “Loko has returned with
Luria and the stranger who came with
you from the other world.”
The news lent wings to our already
flying feet. Then I noticed that we
weren’t running by the same path I’d
been taken. Suspicion raised its head in
my breast. As though reading my mind
the one in the lead gasped:
“The other way we’d meet those com-
ing to bar our path. This way is longer
He was right.
We rushed into the throne room from
a side entrance but one that was all the
way at the far end. So intent were those
in the room on what was taking place
before the dais, they didn’t even see us.
I could understand their intent.
Hank and Luria were in the same po-
sition as Lovah and I had been only a
short time before. The only difference
being that they were not bound to-
gether. Further, they had been made to
kneel before Loko and the other two.
Loko was on his feet, a look of mad fury
on his wrinkled face. His arms were
raised above his head and I could hear
the thin screech of his voice all the way
across the room:
“You will not die quickly, I promise
that. I will make life drain from your
bodies as the sweat labors from it on
heaty days. I will have my revenge —
I will make it last to your bitter end.
. . . They will come too late, and seeing
your lifeless bodies will give up the
struggle. . . .”
T T E STOPPED, warned by the shouts
of the guards and the two men be-
side him. He took one look at us, turned
and scampered backward to seek refuge
behind his warrior men.
In an instant a solid wall of guards
had been formed before the two cap-
tives. We hit them and it was like plow-
ing into an immensely thick rubber
band. We hit and bounced back. This
time I took the lead, when we charged
forward again. I swung my sword like
a man swings a reaper and whatever it
touched became two. My men seemed
charged with the same fury as I. They
hacked and stabbed with terrible effect.
But once more we were too few. Reason
and sanity left me. I was a wild animal.
Strange sounds came from my throat.
Screams of madness, shouts of deliri-
um. Fear was plain on the faces of those
facing me. For a few moments they gave
before my attack, enough for me to win
to the sides of the kneeling man and
woman. It took just the time of two
sword swipes and they were free. Then
they were at my side and swinging
More and more guards kept joining
in the fray. We were outnumbered fifty
to one. But not for long. Suddenly there
were shouting voices, voices which sent
echoes of “Luria” echoing about the
stone walls, and from all sides warriors
streamed in to join the battle, Luria’s
Our opponents melted from our sight,
streaming to join their leaders in flight.
But not for long. We had Captain Mita
and the giant who had sworn to do
things to Hank and me, to reckon with.
Even from my small experience in this
pest-hole I knew what a maze it was.
We discovered it was a perfect place for
defense. Each corridor had been built
with that purpose in mind. Ten men
could hold back a hundred in their nar-
row reaches. And there were dozens of
We had won the throne room. But we
had also won to the heart of Loko’s em-
pire. We soon discovered that we had
not won a complete victory. It might,
we also discovered, become a Pyrhic
victory. Loko was a long way from giv-
ing up the struggle.
Ever since we had been rescued from
the tented compound where we had been
prisoner, I had wondered why the use
of bow and arrow had not been more
universal. Later I was told that they
had not as yet become proficient in its
use. Loko’s men were. Or those he had
trained. Suddenly a hail of arrows met
our advancing forces. It was only for-
tunate that we were not in the open.
As it was those barbed shafts kept us
at bay. And once more it was Jimno
who devised an impromptu escape from
“Small groups,” he shouted, taking
the play away from Luria as naturally
as though it had been God-given. “Six
and eight to each. Go low — and
keep moving. Stab and go on. Don’t let
yourselves be targets.”
As though they had been trained in
the new maneuver for a lifetime, they
folowed the command to perfection.
Now when a man or woman fell it was
a single one and not as before, by fives
But still it was hack and chop. Loko,
or rather Mita, had enough sword fod-
der to keep us busy. I had learned a lot
about the use of a sword. I no longer
swung it in wild circles, hoping to catch
someone in the radii. Now I jabbed and
chopped. My sword and I were covered
with blood. Lovah, too, was finding re-
venge for the indignities she’d suffered.
At last the corridor we had found
ourselves in came to an end. We were
on the parapet which encircled Loko’s
pueblo palace. Our enemies were fleeing
from us. For the first time I saw a means
QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD
of escape which I hadn’t seen before.
Ladders had been placed against the
walls. Men streamed like firemen down
np HE chase continued. But it was a
-*■ little more even now. Now we were
in the open where the archers had a
chance at us. But they were not too pro-
ficient in the use of the bow. The arrows
were indiscriminate in their choice of
victims. And they found their friends
as quickly as their enemies.
We won through the hail of steel. And
forced our way to the ladders. Soon,
each ladder had its quota of Luria’s
warriors in command. Nor did it take
long before we were on the stretch of
ground below and continuing the chase.
It was only then that we learned Jim-
He had thought of everything. From
above came a shrill imperious whistling.
And from the great grassy plain sur-
rounding Loko’s city came a horde of
I don’t know how many there were
or how Jimno had gone about calling
them but come they did in an irresist-
ible wave which swept away all who
opposed them until they arrived within
the precincts of the city itself. Here
they were met by those trying to flee.
Pandemonium is a mild way of saying
But all this is what happened at the
shrill calling of the paavans. What took
place with us directly is as follows. We
followed so close on the heels of our
enemies they had no chance to cut the
ladders from us. There were some who
were able to but not many. Those who
were on the ladders at the time, friend
and foe alike, met a quick death below
for the drop was all of seventy feet.
We won our way to the bottom. At
our head Jimno strode like an avenging
angel. I suppose the memory of what
happened to his wife and children was
never to be forgotten; nor would the
enemy ever forget the flashing sword
which took a dozen lives for every one
exacted of his. We followed close be-
hind and chopped away after him. It
seemed we were invincible. They fell as
the leaves fall in the wake of a storm.
They retreated until we backed them
up against a rear wall of the palace
There were a hundred of them against
perhaps fifty of us. The odds were even.
We paused, all together, as though
drawing the last breath and strength
for the ensuing struggle for it was in
each of our minds that it was to be to
the death. Then, as though motivated
by a single being, we leaped for each
other. Whether by chance or intent
Hank and I were opposed by the giant
and Captain Mita. Mita was my oppo-
All it took was a single stroke on my
part to know that I was at the short
end of a long ride. He parried my
clumsy jab and had it not been for a
stroke of sheer luck, the engagement
would have ended then and there. His
foot slid forward at the same time his
sword did. But someone alongside
kicked him in trying to get out of the
way of a blow, and that tiny instant of
break in the rhythm of his riposte,
allowed his parry to slide past me, just
under my shoulder.
I leaped backward to safety.
I knew then I had but a single chance.
Slash and keep slashing with the utmost
disregard for safety and depend on his
being on the defensive all the time.
Sooner or later by sheer strength I
might wear him down. It sounded good
in my brain. It even started off well.
I whirled my sword so fast it was but
a streak of light. And, as I had hoped,
he kept on the retreat. But why was he
grinning? Suddenly he stepped in —
slid in would be a better way of describ-
ing the movement he made. He jabbed
easily, somehow avoiding my clumsy
blows. The sword tip pricked me and
blood began to flow. Again and again
he managed to evade my thrusts and
slashes and every time he came in he
departed with a little more of my blood
leaking from various parts of my an-
atomy. He was toying with me.
After a while I began to gasp a bit.
Breath was becoming harder to catch.
He motioned me forward, saying:
“Come! You have only felt the tip
thus far. The edge is keener, will make
life depart the quicker. You have lived
long enough. Soon your time will
end. . . .”
r pO HELL with it, I thought. A guy
A can live but once. And Lovah or
not, if my time was now, that’s the way
it would have to be. I dove forward
again and by sheer force broke through
his guard, made him retreat. I even
managed to get in a couple of digs of
my own, yet he always managed to
evade the death thrust.
Once more I had to stop to regain a
spent breath. And saw for the first time,
realized then what he had forced me
into doing. He had retreated all right.
But in the direction he wanted. And in
so doing he had forced me to go along.
Now his back was against the wall of
the palace and I was in the sun. His
sword danced merrily in front of my
eyes and seemed to shoot sparks into
“You have courage, my friend,” he
said. “It is a pity that I have to kill you.
But first I must kill that thing on your
shoulder. . . .”
The bird, I thought suddenly. It was
still perched on my shoulder. Its claws
still dug into my flesh and for the first
time I felt the bite of them. Softly to my
ears came the last words of the bird,
“This time death will be final for me.
Tell Luria this world is done for her.
And say that the world she will go to
has no need of women warriors. . . .”
They were the last utterance he
made. In a movement that was but a
play of light, too quick for my eyes to
follow, Mita brought his sword forward
with a gentle but lightning-like move-
ment of his wrist. I did my best to leap
out of its way. But the blade was not
seeking me. It found its mark all right.
A spatter of warm liquid struck against
my cheeks and from the corner of my
eye I saw the head of the Holy Groana
Bird fall to the ground. Then I no
longer felt its claws in my shoulder’s
flesh. The mystery of it would never be
“So be it,” Mita said. “The time has
come my friend. Now!”
He danced forward and his blade
flickered toward me, now toward my
throat and now toward my chest but
always to return as I danced awkwardly
aside. But he was no longer smiling
at my movements. Suddenly he snaked
forward, bent a little lower than usual
and shot out one leg and arm in a
simultaneous gesture. I made the mis-
take of following the direction of his
leg. ... I don’t know about this busi-
ness of a drowning man seeing his life
flash backward before him as he goes
down. But this I know.
The dust of this place had a bitter
taste — the sun was a blast furnace
for death to enter — and the shadow
— there was a voice calling to me, the
voice of my beloved, and I had not the
breath to answer — a pointed bit of
steel was leaping to find a spot in me
of the great destroyer crossed the face
of the sun. . . .
My sword fell to the earth. My eyes
were suddenly too tired to stay open,
yet too horrified, too amazed to close.
QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD
I knew who had cast the shadow. Mo-
kar. As though he had been shot from
the blue, he had come in a tremendous
leap to land full on Mita. One snap of
those terrible jaws and Mita’s life had
escaped in a cascade of gore. Mita had
spoken the truth. The time had come,
I turned wearily. Just in time to see
the last of the great drama. Loko was
pinned against the wall not far from me.
Hank was just stepping away from the
headless body of the giant, Luria and
Jimno were facing Loko, and Lovah
was running toward me with the grace
and speed of a gazelle.
I took her in my arms and she was
limp for a second. Her fingers explored
my wounds and her eyes lit up and her
lips gave a sigh as she saw that I was
We moved, arm in arm, toward the
Loko was pleading for his life, a
broken stream of words which sounded
oddly profane from lips which had
caused so many to die. They were the
sounds of a babbling idiot.
Luria was a pale-faced ghost, now
that the die was cast. She saw that the
bird was missing from my shoulder and
at the nodding of my head knew it was
dead. Her lips thinned and determina-
tion made her jaws go square.
“Throw him a sword,” she said.
The blade lay at the old man’s feet.
He didn’t even look at it. Begging
words dripped from his mouth, broken-
voiced promises which had no meaning.
Suddenly Jimno pushed the girl gently
“It is not meet for a Queenly blade
to be defiled. His flesh would rot the
steel, tarnish its color. He is but car-
rion even in life. No better dead,
surely. . .
Loko died more quickly than did
most to whom he had ordered death. . . .
“LURIA,” Hank was saying. “There
is nothing here for you anymore.
Jimno has proven a right to rule. It’s
better that way. . .
We were sitting about, the four of us,
Lovah, Hank, the beautiful girl who
had been the Queen, and I. Jimno was
rounding up the last of Loko’s forces.
Lovah found the hollow of my arms and
was content there.
“But my people,” she protested.
“They will live and well, too,” Hank
said. “Jimno is wise and great. He is a
poet, remember. But also a warrior. He
proved that. He won his right to a king-
ship. Let the days of a woman’s rule
She turned her face to his and he
smiled and went on:
“Except for the rule over me. You
have always been my Queen. In my
heart you wil always reign. But in my
land, how much greater and more en-
during will it be.”
“I have the power,” she said aloud.
“Perhaps. . .
We became tense as she turned and
gave us each a look of intense search.
Then her lips framed a smile and she
continued, “Close your eyes, all of you.
And let us pray we return to that place
from whence you came. . . .”
It was evening. We were in a large
city. Skyscrapers were framed against
the cloud-studded sky. We were not
far from water. I could hear it slapping
against a pier. . . . Then I saw the white
wonder of the Wrigley Building. We
were home again.
* * *
LOVAH knows what it means to be
a writer’s widow. A week has gone by
since our return. She has wanted to go
out every night. But every night I say:
“Can’t honey. Got to finish this for
And always the same words from her:
“I am beginning to think you mar-
ried the wrong person. This Ray Palm-
er, whoever he is, is more a wife to
you than I.”
I grinned. Only in one way. I thought.
He’d never be in any of the other ways
you are. Her arms slid around my neck.
She whispered something to me, and
Ray, manuscript, work, were all for-
gotten. Nobody cooks hamburgers like
my wife. . . .
★ By FRAN FERRIS ★
T HE great Egyptian Pharoah, Amenhotep,
the Magnificent, died about 1375 B.C. and
was buried in the Valley of the Kings’
Tombs. This great Pharoah who presided over the
splendor of the noble city of Thebes and who
made his name ring in Egyptian history was not
noted for what he was but rather for what he did
primarily as a military strategist. At his death
Egypt was a gigantic Empire consisting of Asia
Minor, Egypt and Nubia. A mighty man was
required to hold together this heterogenous entity.
Amenhotep’s son, Amenhotep III, more often
called Ikhnaton, was the direct opposite of his
father. Where his father was a bold and brave
military leader, taking by force what he wanted,
and seldom giving thought to anything but con-
quest, Ikhnaton was the philosopher, the dreamer,
the idealist, the man of profound thought.
He immersed himself, not In the study of his
mighty empire but in the thought of time, and he
was more interested in the philosophizing of the
priests than in the course of his nation. But in
his way, the man is a most remarkable man among
Pharoahs. We think of him as an individual,
not a name before a state.
His position of prominence comes from the fact
that almost single-handedly, he changed Egyptian
religion. Previously, all Egyptian religion had the
elementary concepts of gods presiding over given
human function, for example, architecture. The
god Ptah was supposed to have guided the con-
struction of the beautiful objects d’art that were
prepared beneath the Temple of Memphite.
But it was the belief of the Pharoah to change
this. He believed that the gods were not only the
guides of such work, but the very inspirers and
directors. Ptah thus became not merely the
patron of the art of architecture but its very
fountainhead. He was the master-workman, the
architect of the Universal. All designs and all
beauty stem from him. This idea met with severe
opposition at first, but gradually Ikhnaton, by
the magic of his personality and his oratory,
swung the priests’ beliefs in his direction.
XJO GOD, however, had ever been claimed as the
^ ^ god of the Empire. Re, or Ra, god of the
Sun, was the nearest approach to that, but in some
subtle sense which we do not yet fully understand,
he was not the major figure. Ikhnaton identified
his new god, the god of the Empire with the old
Amon, the sun-god, the “Ra.” He called this god
“Aton, Lord of the Sun.” The symbol of the god
was the usual radiating disk.
Then to destroy his father’s constant reference
to Amon, Ikhnaton went so far as to obliterate
that name as best he could from the entire city.
His success was excellent. Even the sacred writ-
ings on the tombs of his ancestors were eliminated.
This done, he assigned cities in Asia, in Egypt
and in Nubia to the god — they were dedicated, so
to speak, to the furtherance of his worship. Be-
cause the Pharoah’s word was absolute there was
little difficulty in enforcing this new god on Jiis
So absorbed was Ikhnaton in his religious work
that he almost ignored the dissolution of the
Egyptian Empire. Hittite tribes from the East
were beginning to worry at the flanks of the
Egyptian lion and the descent of Egypt was at
hand. Ikhnaton did nothing. The results were
apparent at once. Charioteers swept through his
empire and conquered it with little or no trouble.
That is, they conquered those portions of the
empire which they coveted, which fortunately was
not Egypt itself.
Ikhnaton died, not in hiding for he was still a
Pharoah, but all Egypt cursed his memory and he
was known as the “criminal of Akhetaton.” This
was a terrible appellation. Because he was an intel-
lectual who did nothing while his world vanished
about him, his people were prone to look upon
him with contempt. But this much at least, may
be said : he was a thinker and an idealist.
Bloody as is the history of ancient Egypt, it was
and is a novelty to find anyone so concerned with
the things of the spirit. As has often been men-
tioned, the Egyptians were almost always con-
cerned with material gain — their spiritualistic atti-
tude and their absorption with religious matters
was merely a cover-up for their intensely acquisi-
tive activities. Not so for Ikhnaton ; he may have
let an empire fall, but he at least, thought !
* * *
THE MIGHTY AMAZON
By H. R. STANTON
T HE Amazon river in South America is the
greatest one in the world. It has been
called many different names by the various
tribes living along their portion. It was given
the name of Amazon by the explorer, Orellana,
who named it after a tribe of warriors that had
exceptionally large wives who helped their hus-
bands in battles.
The full length of the Amazon is approximately
3300 miles. It varies in width, but where it
enters the Atlantic it is ISO miles wide. The
Amazon drains more than 2,500,000 square miles,
a territory nearly as large as the United States.
As the Amazon lies within a tropical zone, there
is uninterrupted plant growth throughout the
year. Their excessive rainy season is during our
winter, and some sections have 100 inches of
rainfall a year. It flows at a rate of two and
one-half miles an hour, and much faster during
the floods which occur each year. The Amazon
and its connecting rivers form the largest system
of inland water-ways in the world.
Within the basin of the Amazon there are layers
of rocks and sandstone of varying height. This
shows that at one time a local mediterranean sea
covered the Amazon lowland territory and its
shallow outlet into the western sea gradually be-
came filled in.
This mighty river pours five million gallons of
water per second into the Atlantic ocean. Along
with all this water is carried tons of sediment.
Every twenty-four hours there is enough to form
a solid cube 500 feet each way. During the flood
season, villages, even though they are built on
high posts, are practically unindated. Natives
paddle their canoes right into their houses.
Because of the hot, moist climate, there is lux-
uriant plant growth. Among this dense tangle
of vegetation, live many practically unknown
tribes. They are savage and cannibalistic. They
hunt with clubs, bow and arrow, and blow-guns
which shoot tiny sharp poisoned arrows that
cause instant paralysis.
The plants grow uninterrupted year after year
till they attain monstrous size. The enormous
trees along the banks of the river are interwoven
with vines and roots, and hanging with moss to
create a fantastic picture.
PERUVIAN MYTH X-RAY EYES
By JOIN BARRY Ry PETE BOGG
T HERE is an old legend of Collas, a Peru-
vian tribe, about Pacari Tampu, the
“House of the Dawn.” From the caverns
of Pacari Tampu there came four brothers and a
sister. The oldest boy climbed a mountain and
threw out stones in all directions to signify that
he had taken possession of the land. The other
three brothers were envious of him, and the
youngest brother succeeded in inducing him to
enter a cave. When he was inside, he rolled a
big stone in front of the mouth of the cave, and
imprisoned the eldest brother there forever. On
a pretense of searching for his lost brother, he
had one of the other brothers climb a high moun-
tain, from which he cast him, and as he fell, by
use of black magic, changed him into a stone.
The third brother sensed that there was treach-
ery, and fled. The first brother symbolized the
oldest known Peruvian religion, that of the thun-
der god, Pachacamac; the second, that of an in-
termediate fetishism or stone-worship; the third,
the cult of Viracocha, the water-god; the fourth
seems to be the more modern sun-worship, which
in the end triumphed over all the rest, as is proved
by the younger brother whose name was “Pirrhua
Manca,” which means “Son of the Sun.”
T HERE is a young man living in Johannes-
burg who seems to have x-ray eyes, for he
is able to discern the presence of minerals
in many places where even the experts have been
in doubt. He is now employed by a South Af-
rican gold mining syndicate, and his job is to
search for new mining sites for them. This would
be quite a task for sixteen year old Pieter Van
Jaarsveld if it weren’t for his x-ray eyes.
When he was taken for his first visit to a dia-
mond mine, he became ill with a headache caused
by a blue, shimmering haze above the diamond
pit. No one else had ever noticed any blue haze,
and they were puzzled by his words. He said he
had never seen any thing just like it before, but
that he had seen black ridges shimmering over a
gold mine before that had given him the same
kind of a headache. Several tests were made by
taking the boy to mines and to prospective mines
which proved that he did see phenomena that no-
body else saw. Black ridges danced over ground
where gold was buried, and white ridges indicated
that there was water underground. But the blue
shimmering haze always indicated diamonds. He
has been publicized in the Johannesburg news-
papers as the boy with the x-ray eyes.
Mirrors of the Queen
by RICHARD S. SHAVER
■t was a simple vanishing act with
trick mirrors, anti Lola stepping through
them— bsit this time she failed to return . . .
I WAS helping backstage setting up
scenery when I first saw the Queen.
Her real name was Lola Murphy,
but her act was billed “The Golden
Queen” in the Burlesque circuit.
So naturally she was “the Queen”
to all the troupers, and believe me she
looked the part. Do I have to tell you
what queen of the strippers looks like?
You don’t even know? Where are you
She had everything, tall and perfect
and young. She danced like an opium
eater’s dream — and she had golden,
natural blonde hair to go with it — and
plenty of it. The Queen would be bet-
ter known today than Christine Ayres
if this hadn’t happened. . . . She had
more, instead of languid perfection she
had a dynamic rhythm, the song of life
was born in her to be movement. . . .
She was headed for the top, musical
comedy, movies, everything would have
come her way. Agents were after her
even then, but she avoided them. She
wasn’t figuring on a change. I some-
times think this was because of me. In
fact I know it. She could have had
anybody she wanted, but she took a
shine to me.
I’ve had a little stage experience,
and when the Queen found out I used
to work for a magician, she had an idea.
I was spending one of my few re-
maining dollars over the “Burlesque
bar” next to the Trocadero, in Philly,
when the Queen took the stool next to
me at the bar.
As usual when she appeared on my
horizon, my eyes popped, my mouth
sagged open in simple admiration and
other things, so that I am just able to
whisper to the barkeep: “Another Tom
Collins, pal.” Just as if that didn’t
mean I was going to be broke and out
of fodder money before payday. I could
tell to a meal just how far that pay
check would go. And it was gone, here
Then I turned on the charm, and
began to unwind what meagre salami
I could slice for the Queen’s benefit.
“I’m Frank Marr, Demon Magician,
master of illusion and apparition. You
never knew that, did you, Lola?”
“I did not. But there are a few things
I could learn yet. You might even have
money to pay for these drinks, but I’ll
have to see it to believe it.”
Uneagerly I shelled out my last re-
maining bit of well worn cabbage.
Queenie laughed. I said — “Well, a guy
don’t make much moving scenery and
sweeping out ... if I was in the
dough like you, it'd be different.”
The Queen sort of measured me with
“I see. At liberty, one magician.
Why didn’t you say so?” The queen
She stood with her lovely arms raised over her head, looking like a golden goddess
put my money back in my hand, and
paid the bar-keep. She was sharp.
“You’re not much of a magician, or
you’d have more money. When did you
work last? I mean aside from that
bums relief job of yours?”
“It has been quite a while.”
“I could get you a job with us. You
could fill in while we change, etc. A
magician is always good. I’ll speak a
word, and you come in after the show
and we’ll see what you can do. It don’t
have to be too good. You don’t stutter,
doyou? I know you’re not too proud!”
“NNNNooo,” I stuttered.
CO IT began, and I burlesqued a stage
^ magician very well. My clumsiness
and inexperience the audience thought
was put on, and it went off fine. But
The Queen wasn’t fooled.
I was young, and being around pul-
chritudinous, broadminded females was
seventh heaven. I ate regularly, and
spent a lot of my time watching doors
for Lola, watching her on the stage,
getting a chance to talk to her in the
Pretty soon I was that way about
Lola, and everybody knew it, including
her. She had a big heart, and never
put me in the place I probably be-
longed, so far as she was concerned.
That’s what I thought, before I learned
Everything was jake, my act was
funny if not clever, and Lola advised
me as to how to better it. If I had left
well enough alone, I’d still be a trouper,
instead of telling this sad story. And
it is sad !
But I got a bright idea. I devised
an improvement on the gazeeka box,
and I called it “The Fountain of
The gazeeka box is an old standby
of burlesque. It has a trick bottom, it
looks like a coffin. You put someone
inside, then you close the door, say
Presto, open the door and there either
is nobody there, or there is someone
else there. Which is surprising enough,
but everyone has seen it, and no one
is surprised. Which I decided to
I rigged a trick fountain of chemical
mist. There were mirrors and such
things, and when somebody stepped in-
to the fountain they disappeared. Or
they could appear out of nowhere right
in the fountain, and it was very pretty.
The way I worked it, an old lady
walked into the fountain and disap-
peared. After a second, out stepped
the pretties of our chorus girls in sheer
net, did a little dance of naked joy, and
pranced cff the stage. “The fountain of
youth " — and we had a swell bally-hoo
which made it all very impressive.
“Frank,” says Lola, first time we
worked the new act — “it needs some-
thing. After the girl comes out, put
somebody else in, and have a monster
come out — something goes wrong, see?”
“That’s funny, Queen. The magi-
cian I used to work for had an old book
that mentioned a spell that was sup-
posed to do just that — you put in some-
thing and a kind of little monster ap-
peared. I copied the spell out of the
book, meaning to try it some time — just
for fun, you know!”
“You don’t seriously believe in such
things, do you?”
“I don’t, but there was something
funny about that old book. Black
Harry, the magician, never let me read
it. He had a couple of books he never
let anyone see. Why? What could a
book do wrong?”
“Lots of people have' books they are
ashamed of. What’s funny about that?”
“Because I hooked this one, and I
remember that spell because I copied
it out of the book before I put it back.
That book was plenty peculiar!”
MIRRORS OF THE QUEEN
“Never mind such nonsense, Frank.
Just work up the act like I tell you. If
it’s good enough we might get a chance
at big time — I’ll help you put it over
If I had only let it go at that! But
I wasn’t even listening to her. I was
thinking of some of the stunts Black
Harry used to do that even I couldn’t
figure out. I was thinking of that
book — so old it didn’t even have a cover
or flyleaf. So old, in black letters on
thin parchment paper — and on the top
of each page — the legend “Genuine
'T'HAT night I looked up the pages
I had copied out of the ancient
book. I copied down again the words
that had caused my curiosity.
“In the Tyme of Artour King, there
was an Elf Queen called the Golden.
Olden magick had she, and this spelle
of potencie is hers. She tooken five
mirrors, and put them in the pentacle.
She did so put them that the morwen-
ings light tangled a web of planings
litten thrice, from each to one and back.
Within the magick star of light she did
cause to appear, by cunning turning
of mirror facen, a black hole out of
“In that awful hole it was her evil
custom to cast her enemies. From that
hole she gotten gold and silver and
gems, and outen that hole came mon-
strous little men to serve her.
“Those she threw in came back no
more. Yet outen that hole she tooken
much, all her fancy did demand, for
the wights beyond did serve her.
“This awful spelle she did give to
one magickon. Himsel’ written it down
thus, and to another, and at last to me.
Herein I do print it. Thaumaturgists
know such things may not go losten,
here it is.
“Five by five and three yards distan’
each reflecting over each and under
each, down each middle the flaren
slicen; so slicen each the other trained
and turned till — the dread black star
“Then beware, and bid goodbye what
goes in thare!”
I got two more mirrors out of the
stock room, and set them up behind the
screen with the other three to form
each one side of a star — the “pentacle”.
The other sides I did not even draw
upon the floor, letting the reflected light
do that. Why? Why does anybody do
anything? Because I was interested in
that old book and its deadly serious
attitude toward magic — one couldn’t
read it and think it was all foolishness.
Yet in truth I did not think I was
doing anything but making a wider
opening for the disappearance of the
woman from the chemical mist of the
“fountain”. I turned on the spot for
the “light flare slicen” and turned each
of the mirrors till the main light made
a line of repetition down the center of
each. Then I stood back, to see just
what I had. At first it didn’t appear
to be anything, but as I moved about,
my shoulder nudged one of the mirrors,
and instantly in the center of the mirror
arrangement appeared a wide black
space. A place where no light entered —
a shadow; deep and sinister it looked,
I was startled, but still didn’t realize
that there was anything remarkable
about a mere shadow caused by reflec-
tion of a light.
I didn’t realize that mirrors, by a
concentration of many lines of force,
could so distort or work upon the tenu-
ous webs of space itself as to cause to
project into three dimensions something
that was distinctly not of our three
dimensions, but of a higher or a lower
number. To me it was a peculiar illu-
sion, similar to many such tricks em-
ployed by magicians, and the ancient
authority for its potent nature I took
most lightly of all. Or did I? Who
knows truly what goes on in the hid-
den portions of his own mind?
I passed off the black space as a
mere coincidence of shadow lines from
the mirrors, switched off the spot, and
left for a dinner date with Lola. I for-
got all about it till the show opened
that night. We didn’t need to rehearse
even a new act, we ad libbed whenever
we didn’t know what came next, and
the audience at a burlesque show is
I stood that night in front of a
half-filled house for the first show,
a vague dread of that waiting black
web of darkness stretched between the
five mirrors began to bother me. Could
it be that simple three dimensional
space could be converted by simple re-
peated light force dynamically reflect-
ing over and over — distorted into a
weird path between adjacent worlds of
space-time? I brushed away the silly
fears, and went into my spiel, while out
of the wings shuffled old Mary, the
derelict we had hired to play the part
of the aged creature converted by the
“Fountain of Youth” into a young
Behind the shimmering mist of chem-
icals spraying upward, I could see that
black star-shaped web of light force
spread like a great spider, five feet tall
and five-armed, big in the center as a
Old Mary, inobedience to my mo-
tions and my words — “Presto, age be-
comes youth! Abra and cadabra and
OOM himself will take away this
shriveling mask and give you once
again the glory of youth. Enter the
Fountain!” — advanced to the center of
the mist. I pressed the foot button that
caused the mist to shoot higher, it’s con-
cealing screen of coiling mist, white
and thick and eery.
Now, while the audience could not
see beyond the mist, I could; and Mary
ducked backward into the center of the
mirror arrangement, expecting to feel
Trixie Benson, the smooth little num-
ber who played the part of the re-
juvenated Mary, brush by as she
stepped into the center of the mist.
It was as pretty an act as there was
on any Burlesque stage, which are not
usually noted for complex or artistic
work, and I waited impatiently, not
wanting Trixie to spoil the effect by
coming on late as she had before. But
my eyes were telling me that both of
them were there in that black star of
shadow behind the fountain, for neither
of them had left. I should have seen
Mary’s back retreating behind the cur-
tain to the wings, and should have seen
Trixie’s young curves within the mist,
but neither of them had come through
that black star on either side !
I waved my hands and let up on the
hidden foot pedal of the mist spray,
hoping Trixie had gotten in place in
the center — but no Trixie. I stepped on
it again and the white coils shot up
high, as I intoned — “Obdoolah, Geni-
urkim, EEniequey, oodey, omesing-
Meaning “Queenie, do something,
for Pete’s sake!” She was the only one
watching the act from the wings, there
wasn’t anyone else to appeal to. No-
one else give a darn.
How did I know a fool like me would
stumble onto genuine ancient magic?
I still didn’t believe anything was
wrong except that Trixie wasn’t in her
place. Which was not unusual.
Queenie came striding out, her long
lovely legs making poetry beneath a
white wooly coat she always put on
when she came off after a dance. I let
up on the mist, the fountain died down
MIRRORS OF THE QUEEN
to a foot high, looked at it — exclaimed
in stage surprise: “The old lady has
Queenie took me up, looking into the
mist, and screaming — “She’s gone.
You’ve gone and done it, you bumbling
magician! Bring her back here.”
Queenie was acting for the audience,
but I wasn’t so sure I was acting.
Which was all very well, but while
the Queen and I peered and acted sur-
prised and waited for Trixie to show
behind the mirrors, a little man walked
calmly out from the black web of
The Queen screamed and nearly
fainted in my arms, the audience
howled with laughter. I just stared at
the little gremlin. It wasn’t that he
was so small. It was the angular dark
gloomy naked body of him, like an
african carving of a savage God, the
malevolent stare of the deep set eyes
... He turned around and went back
into the web between the mirrors.
npHE audience began to clap. It must
have been effective all right. But
wasted on that audience, so far as sav-
vying what stage craft it must take to
do a thing as real as that!
My knees were knocking together. I
stood there nonplussed, or fear-stricken,
but the Queen thought I was having
stagefright, I guess, for she took over.
“Now don’t worry, Frank. I’ll get
the little man back and ask him where
is the little old lady?”
Before I could stop her she stepped
into that fountain, and I had auto-
matically stepped on the lever to make
the mist rise and hide her disappear-
ance. I took my foot off, but just in
time to see her half way through the
wall of black nothing that edged the
star of shadow behind the mist-foun-
tain. Half in and half out — and cut off
as clean as a knife — and the next in-
stant she was gone!
Through my head rang the antique
words of the rhyme from the book :
“Them she throwed in came outen
For bid good-bye what goes in
Before I could do anything but press
my two fists to my temples trying to
think — two more of the little men
walked out of the shadow and glared
at me. They were not anything a man
could look at and fully grasp. Small
and strangely angled bodies, like alien
carvings, or surrealist paintings, they
struck a sensing of vast alien dimen-
sions into me that even the departure
of the Queen’s lovely self had not done.
Sandra Uvald, Lola’s best friend and
herself a talented stripper and fine
looking woman, came running out on
the stage. The uproar was deafening,
with a third of the audience on their
feet, shouting incoherently.
I couldn’t hear what Sandra said, but
I could guess. I bent my head to her
lips, she shouted: “What’s going on,
anyway? Where’s Trixie? She went
behind the mirrors and never came out
on this side or the other!”
I bellowed, “That’s nothing! Did
you see the gremlins that came out?”
Sandra looked at me as if I was
crazy. I decided maybe she was right.
The audience shouted and clapped and
whistled and stomped. Sandra had on
only a gaudy red dressing gown thrown
over her rhinestone G-string and net
“Take it off, Sandra. Take it off!”
the boys shouted, whistling happily,
unaware entirely of what was going on.
Sandie looked at the noisy crowd,
that had been filling up steadily since
the show began. She smiled and held
up her hand. A dead silence fell, be-
cause the regulars there practically
worshipped Sandra and Lola the Queen.
That clear sugary voice of hers rang
eerily to me, but I suppose it sounded
fine to everyone else.
“Friends, a strange thing has hap-
pened. This magician has caused three
people to disappear, vanish — pouf!
And he can’t tell where they are or
get them back!”
They all started laughing, for they
thought naturally she was kidding.
She went right on above the laughter:
“Little Sandra is going into the Foun-
tain of Youth to see what happened
to the help! Hold my coat, Frank.”
She tossed the vivid red gown, satin
thing that made me think of blood, into
my arms and the audience howled as
she turned once with her arms raised,
glorious smooth flesh perfectly molded
— and stepped, alive, vital — into that
thing that I called the Fountain of
Youth and now realized must be only
a door to death.
T TRIED to stop her, my mind giv-
ing me shudders of self recrimina-
tion — “If only I had told them all what
I was doing, if only I hadn’t kept it to
Sandra was only trying to help me
out of a situation she saw was going
to reflect badly on me, perhaps lose
me the new job I was so proud to have
made good in. She didn’t realize at all
what she was stepping into. . . .
The audience bellowed at my acting
as I tried to stop her.
Graceful as a Goddess, she eluded
me, sliding past my outstretched hands
with a dancing step — slid into the mist
as easily as a wraith. I was sure she
was going to be one. The last I saw
of her was one glorious nude leg and
rhinestone glittering strip around her
dimpled hip — and the rest of her sliced
off by the black star’s edges. And it
wasn’t any mirror effect, the mirrors
were behind that black reaching place
between. It was the focus of the light
planes where they formed a multi-sided
figure in space, a star shaped poly-
hedron of force line and plane of light
re-enforced by reflection and re-reflec-
tion until they formed the insupportable
strain on the matrix of our own space-
time that caused that other world ad-
jacent to touch in reality of solid sub-
stantial simultaneity. Was it synchro-
nized vibrance caused by the repeated
light impact? Was it space-tortion set
up by the light flow’s repetition? Was
it truly ancient magic I was witness-
ing — something no man can under-
stand but only guess at?
I was yelling to the vanished San-
dra — “No! No! That’s the fourth di-
mension, you can’t go in there!”
The audience was laughing fit to kill,
and I stopped, feeling just as ludicrous
and impotent as they thought I was
There was only one thing to do. My
heart contracted as if frozen, my skin
broke out in cold sweat, and I stripped
off my coat as if about to plunge into
water. Something inside me seemed to
be shrilling to me — “You fool dabbling
in magic has cost you the finest woman
you will ever know. You might as well
jump in too, you won’t enjoy life now! ”
I took my tottering courage in my
hands and stumbled after Lola and
Sandra, through the mist, into the utter
blackness of that star-shaped space be-
tween the five facing mirrors. What
else could a man do who knew that
Lola’s heart was just as big as her sweet
smile made you think it was?
Strange, vibrating energy shook my
body. My eyes saw whirling planes of
light, vast sweeps of peculiar mixtures
of light planes endlessly reflecting, and
my feet sank softly into some strange
stuff that was not matter as we know
it. I stumbled over a body, and lay
there for a long time, unconscious.
MIRRORS OF THE QUEEN
Then I came to, my vision cleared, I
got up and staggered on through the
mists until a wind blew it all away and
I saw — a Gremlin city!
Those angular little hobgoblins com-
ing and going, their endlessly piled im-
possible houses of faceted ugly, illogi-
cally assembled humps and rounds and
angles of smeary brown plaster con-
The far mountains reached toward a
sky that was not azure, but black. A
sky that was only one vast hole in
space, and here and there hung dizzily
spinning pinwheels of fire. Not stars,
nebulae, I guess — but close and big and
spinning with visible motion!
I took a step and shouted with sud-
den fear. For I was sailing end over
end through the sticky ill-smelling air.
As I floated slowly down, I saw awaiting
me a net in the hands of a dozen angu-
lar ugly little men, their malevolent
eyes waiting for me with every possible
evil glee expressed in them. Or so it
seemed to me then.
HTHEY carted me off easily, though
A it took all of them to do it — and
dumped me through the door of one of
the peculiar “houses” which I only
guessed were houses because there was
nothing that looked more like a house
As I struggled out of the net, beside
me I heard Lola, saying: “So you’re
here! At last! Now, would you please
explain just what this is all about before
I go crazy?”
I looked up at her beautiful and dis-
traught face. She never looked better
to me. I sighed, and murmured, “You
won’t like it if I do, Lola!”
“You’d better. I can kick your teeth
in before you get out of that net! You’d
better do some explaining. . . .”
“It all began with that old book that
old Black Harry told me not to read.
That’s what did it! Did anybody ever
tell you not to read a book?”
“I see. Now you wish you hadn’t!
“Well, there were lots of ancient
things in the book, stuff nobody can
understand now-a-days. But that mag-
ical experiment it described was a
method of creating with light reflections
a doorway into what it called “night.”
It must be a higher-dimension! I re-
arranged the mirrors behind the Foun-
tain of Youth so that they were like the
diagram in the book. And here we
are!” I concluded, unwrapping the last
of the net from about my ankles.
“That explains a lot to you, but it
doesn’t help me, not a little bit. What
are we going to do about it? Did it
ever occur to your infantile mind that
you were monkeying with first class
danger of a higher order of dynamite?
Did that bird brain of yours never
think of the consequences?”
“Well, you see, Queen, I didn’t ex-
pect it to work. I was going to test it
with some inanimate object first. But
it took me so long there wasn’t time
before the show. And the old lady
came out and walked in before I could
even think of stopping her. Besides, I
was curious. Besides, I didn’t believe
“Yes, yes, but what are we going
to do? That show is going to turn into
a riot if we don’t get back!”
Lola began to pace up and down the
long, narrow, peculiarly angled room
like a panther in a trap. I sat down,
my whole mind engaged — but not with
the problem of the fourth dimension.
Oh no ! The light effects upon the sub-
tle nude planes of Lola’s perfect body,
fully revealed in that entirely brief cos-
tume of rhinestones and net and
queenly satiny skin. That’s what I was
thinking about! Time ticked by, Lola
paced, now and then striking her hands
together or pressing her palms against
her temples as if her head would burst.
I could feel the mental conflict she was
going through, but strangely, I wasn’t
built that way. I felt myself somehow
like a sailor marooned on a tropical
island with a beautiful girl — wonder-
ful! I was alone at last with — “The
Suddenly that three-cornered impos-
sible door slid open noiselessly, and an-
other net full of thrashing human
plumped in upon the rough brown
greasily shining floor. From the blue
suited figure inside came loud snorts
and at last loud curses — “Dad blamed
the ditig-danged crazy world. What in
the name of impossible God is going on
anyway? Judas priest and all the little
priest. . . .”
Lola and I stood side by side, watch-
ing the contortions inside the net. Sud-
denly the folds unfolded and out thrust
the sweating face of . . .a cop. a
“Dan!” Lola knew him. She knew
everybody. “Dan Daniels! How did
you get here?”
“I’m asking you, Queenie. How did
I get here. Your pal, Finkelstein the
manager, rushes out to me where I’m
standing perfectly at peace with the
world and tells me four people disap-
peared in the “Fountain of Youth.”
Well, I knew what the Fountain of
Youth was, and I figured you and
Frankie had thought up a royal ribbing
for the house and all concerned . . .
a new stunt of some kind. I rushes
on, wanting to do my part for you,
Queen, like any man would that was
a man, and here I am! NOW magician,
suppose you do a little talking. Or
do I wrap this little used night-stick
around your head until you do? I’m
not a man can be made a fool of, not
when I’m conscious! And I ain’t drunk,
Frankie the Magic-man, I ain’t drunk.
So give with some information!”
T TOLD him the truth, just as I had
^ the Queen, and Dan the cop sat
there with the net draped like a sarong
around his hips and his uniform and
looked at me.
“If I wasn’t here in nowhere land
I’d run you in as a dangerous psyco-
pathic. As it is, I guess we’ll let it pass.
But mind you, I don’t believe it! I’m
just biding my time.”
Dan Daniels completed his unwrap-
ping and then, like me, gave himself
up to serious contemplation — not of the
peculiar things that might be seen
through the window over our heads, not
to speculation as to the wonderful
things that might befall us here in no-
where — but to the subtle undulations
of Queenie’s near-nude body as she re-
sumed her nervous pacing up and down.
“Even in the fourth dimension,” I mur-
“Even what?” asked Queenie.
“Even in the fourth dimension, man
is man and beauty rules him,” I con-
cluded, and the Queen snorted. She
was too used to being stared at to notice
two mere malese who could not take
their eyes off her.
“What became of Trixie and San-
dra? Yes, and the old lady?” asked
“Yeah, there was supposed to be
four or five of you. And there’s only
“Two’s enough!” I ejaculated, re-
fusing to consider any further com-
plexities of life. I had finally torn my
eyes away from Queenie’s strip-tease
undress, and began to clamber up the
rough wall toward the window over our
heads. I looked down, and a dizzy
nauseating sensation swept over me. I
let go and floated down to the floor. I
sat down, holding my head.
“Now what’s the matter? Can’t you
stand the sight of the little people?”
MIRRORS OF THE QUEEN
“Look for yourself,” I groaned.
Dan clambered easily up the rough
surface, which seemed to lean outward
at a seventy degree angle with the hori-
“Geez, Frankie, what do you call it?
I never seen nothing like it I Am I
looking straight down or straight up or
“I don’t know, Dan, but don’t fall
out! You’d never stop . .
I didn’t finish. From outside some-
where began to come a fiendish cater-
wauling, the piping of unearthly flutes
and horns, the steady rhythmic beat of
The door flew open and the noise
thrust into the weird shaped chamber
like an unwelcome and drunken guest.
Lola peered out. I peered out, bending
to look under Queenie’s bare, smooth
and heavenly arm. Dan peered out,
Along the astounding causeway,
which hung along the far weird city
like an ugly snake caught by spider-
webs, came a procession.
All the little ugly men, dressed now
in glittering paraphernalia and orna-
ments, ornaments that somehow in
spite of the attempt at decoration yet
looked like many crushed and bright
tin cans strung on strings and wound
about their angular, bumpy bodies —
were marching in procession. At the
head of the procession danced three
weirdly decorated and painted Grem-
lins, rattling great square drums full
of pebbles, I guess. Masks on their
faces made far worse than nature had
intended, grimacing mouths from ear
to ear, horns; and tails of flopping
brown, greasy feathers — everything
here seemed to be brown and dirty
with grease — or was it the strange
light from the blazing, whirling, too-
close unborn stars; glowing, spinning
clouds overhead — that made every-
thing appear so filthy?
Straight up to our door came the
procession’s head, and the three danc-
ing homunculi came straight in upon
us, began to motion us out the door
with motions of the big square rattles.
As if we were fowl or cows, to be
driven by fright at the sounds of the
T GOT the idea, walked out the door,
* stood waiting for the other two.
They lined up beside me, and the pro-
cession followed us as we shuffled
awkwardly along, trying to keep our
balance and our dignity where every
unwary step sent us four feet into the
That causeway twisted and slanted
this way and that, seeming to follow
the tug of an unearthly gravity, for we
remained upright even when it seemed
the landscape itself was vertical. I
knew no man could know the planes or
differences of this world, or know that
these creatures, so like ourselves in
some ways, and so unlike in others —
could not be four-dimensional crea-
tures. It had come to me now that we
were not really in the fourth dimen-
sion, but that the light-cube door I had
created had merely made two adjacent
worlds touching in the folds of the
fourth dimension be simultaneous in-
stead of only adjacent. Had somehow
created a path between two worlds or-
dinarily separated by the un-under-
standable vagaries of irregular fourth
dimension form. That the negligible
force of the reflecting rays of light yet
had power to create such a path was
impossible but true! Perhaps it was
like a match, small in itself, yet the
flame from one match can burn down
a whole city — or a forest. The vibra-
tions of constantly rebounding light,
reflecting itself over and over in a
repetitive re-enforcing of some ancient
MIRRORS OF THE QUEEN
pattern of known mystic potency — of
awful wisdom from the past which
knew the innermost secrets of space
and time and matter — Somehow did
build up such a strain on the ordinary
fabric of space as to cause about them-
selves an opening, a break-through
along fourth dimensional force planes
between adjacent worlds. . . .
I gave up, and let my eyes follow
the serpentine winding of the impos-
sible roadway hung by the spider-web
thin strands of cable from the points of
the houses — queer, many-angled struc-
tures which seemed supported them-
selves by some unsubstantial mass of
brown, heaving matter that anyone
could see would not support one’s
weight. A city sitting on mud, it was;
queer brown hateful appearing stuff,
wet and glistening — and the paths from
house to house and to the wide twist-
ing cable-hung road all suspended above
the mud that yet supported those
The big central building, the palace
of the king, I suppose it was to them;
was the center of many of these cable-
hung roads, like the center of a vast
web. In the big triangular doorway we
went, and after us came the proces-
sion, the rattle-shaking leaders, the
gloomily tramping, ornamented host
trailing behind, their little faces and
long noses and their thin ugly lips
twisted all into a mean expression of
“You know,” said Dan, “if I had
been invited I wouldn’t have come. I
never felt so unwelcome in my life!”
I whispered, “Pretend to like what-
ever happens, no matter how hard it is.
That’s the best advice I can give you.
I used to study psychology. If you
can seem to be on their side — O.K.
But if they get the idea we don’t like
them — look out!”
“Keep smiling, eh?” asked the Queen,
and I nodded.
She put on her best stage teeth-
exposing grimace and kept it there. She
knew how! On her it looked swell. On
me I knew it must look awful, but I
kept grinning. Did it help? That
gloomy crew never lifted an eyebrow
or twisted a lip. The same unsmiling
gloom and mean, unanimous, sullen ex-
I couldn’t have felt more alone, as
far as they went, if I had been marooned
on a desert island.
npHE king was a caricature, a gnome
A out of a story book; a thin, long
faced little man with narrow shoulders,
pot belly, long jeweled fingers, drum-
ming on the carved wood of the throne.
His crooked shins were bare, and a
pair of bangled knickers which reached
nearly to his armpits was his sole cos-
tume, aside from armlets aglitter with
gems, and an iron collar around his
neck. His staff of office was ivory,
white and gleaming, a polished bone
that looked horribly reminiscent of its
one time place in life as a human thigh-
He glowered down at us, probably
wondering what he was going to say
to people who wouldn’t know what he
was talking about. I broke the un-
comfortable silence by smiling as en-
gagingly as I could, and Lola giggled
nicely, but her arm against mine felt
as cold as marble.
Dan decided not to be left out, and
boomed: “Greetings to you ! Just what
do you want with us, anyway?”
At the feet of the monarch something
stirred and I noticed what their immo-
bility had concealed before — the King’s
women. I hadn’t been sure before, be-
cause of their uniform ugliness, just
which were male and which female, but
now I knew I was gazing upon the
selected beauties of the King’s harem,
stretched about his feet in what may
have been supposed to be a languorous
adoration- — and one of them stretched
her face up on a thin boneless neck and
the King leaned forward to hear. Then
he gave a kind of bark that may have
been a guffaw, though you weren’t able
to tell, and the girl — thin, angular and
mud brown and completely ugly —
though her face was smooth and not
bumpy, her skin clear and smooth on
her bare shoulders and prominent but-
tocks — got up and approached us.
Waist high she stood, before the
Queen, who is a good five eleven in her
heels, and she always has heels. Lola
smiled upon her with all the benevo-
lence of a Venus, and for me, with quite
as devastating an effect.
Then the girl really surprised me.
She began to whisper: “I learned your
language from the other two, the old
one and the young one. They came
through the magic fountain long, long
ago. They said that sometime soon the
magician who had sent them would
come for them. I believed them, but
you never came. I learned the language
so that I could go back with you. Will
you take me?”
If I had been unconscious with sur-
prise before, now I really was stunned.
I said: “You learned the language from
two who came through long ago! But
nobody came through long ago ... it
was only minutes ago!”
“You are Demon Frank, Magician,
Her pronunciation was poor, but
plain enough . . . weakly I nodded my
head. “I guess!”
“Then your friends came here years
ago. We have awaited your coming
with great interest. Now you will take
me back with you!”
“It’s all right with me. Just show
me the place we came in!”
“I will do that, but not now. Soon!”
She turned away, held up her thin
ugly hand, began to harangue the for-
mal line-up of the Gremlins with a
series of word-sounds that no recording
machine could have held in a groove.
After minutes of this, we were led to a
place before the throne, and squatted
down in a line with several Gremlin
dignitaries squatting on each side.
KIND of pageant or dance was
performed, through which we sat.
The procession which had led us to the
palace wound and jumped, shook their
rattles, nodded their heads, shuffled
their feet, in and out and round and
round until I was dizzy and nauseated
not alone with the motion but with the
peculiar muddy smell of sweat and wet,
Queenie whispered, “What is she
talking about, the two who came before
“Everything is crazy here, Lola.
Time as well as space is different here.
While we monkeyed around on the stage
for a minute or two before following
“She” through the fountain time itself
was rushing along here in the next
adjacent world with no connection with
our own time rate at all. Seconds there
seem to be months here . . .”
“Then how did Dan arrive within
such a short time?”
“Doesn’t mean a thing. When I came
through, the shock was so great I
passed out. I may have lain uncon-
scious for what was years here, but
only a few minutes back in our world —
Iain or stood or fell — for long minutes
— years here, still on the borderline be-
tween the worlds. Then I came through,
slid or fell into this world.”
“I stopped too, the strange lights and
electric shock, the waves of energy
beating at me . . . I stopped for a long
pause, afraid to go on . . .”
“Exactly. And years passed here
MIRRORS OF THE QUEEN
while we were pausing between the
worlds. Dan rushed right on through,
rescue bent . .
“Yeah, that’s right. I did! But how
did you know?” Dan had begun to
“That’s what we’re talking about!
The funny looking skinny friend, the
king’s girl friend, said the other two
came through long years ago. We were
just figuring out where we were all that
“Years! What are you talking
“Never mind. I’ll explain it all when
we get back.” I didn’t want to miss a
trick here in this court. Too much de-
pended on understanding this place and
these fiend-faced small ungainly people
to stop to argue about the relative mo-
tions of separate time-flows with a cop.
The redundant circling of the Grem-
lin court led to a climax — a thunderous
booming of drums — shaking of rattles,
and shrill screams, a rhythmic repeat-
ing chant lending a background to it
all. At the peak of the furious dance,
the dancers began one by one to strip
off their ornaments and cast them at
the Queen’s fair feet!
I looked at Queenie. The pile of glit-
tering gew-gaws grew and grew. As
each dancer took off the bangles and
tossed them on the heap, he backed
away from the Queen with his head
bent low, finishing by falling to his
knees far- enough away to let the others
pass and make their contribution. Soon
we were surrounded by these kneeling
suppliants and protected by a barrier
I picked up one of the heavy strings
of bangles, objects the size of a baseball
and surprisingly hefty, considering the
gravity reduction here. The thing was
either alloyed silver or gold, it was too
bright-colored for lead. Set in the metal
were semi-polished gems, big as mar-
bles. I looked at Queenie.
“I don’t know what these guys mean
by this, Lola, but if I’m right, you have
several million dollars worth of raw
gold and crude jewels there in front of
you. Just what are they throwing the
stuff at you for?”
Even as I asked, the words of the old
rhyme rang in my head, echoing down
from an antiquity I could only guess at:
“There was an Elf queen called the
In that hole it was her custom,
To cast her enemies and her victims,
And to get back gold and silver and
gems — -
For monstrous little men came out
to serve her!”
IDEA came to me, and I beck-
oned to the thin brown girl who
had gone back to the feet of her king.
She rose and walked toward me, her
head bobbing toward the Queen.
“Why do they give these to the
Queen?” I asked her, pointing to the
pile of precious hardware.
“She is the answer to an ancient
prophecy among us. From the land of
the immortals, the Golden One will
come again. She is the Golden Queen
of the legend, whom the Dryne used to
serve in the other world. To them she
is an immortal.”
“The girl’s answer was clear enough.
They took Lola Murphy for the same
Elf Queen who had long ago used the
mirrors to make a place to throw peo-
ple she didn’t like. The time was so
different between the worlds that a per-
son on earth probably lived a hundred
of the lifetimes here in this crazy mixed
up geography. So they would seem
immortal, it would be called the world
of the immortals. And these weird little
people were called the Dryne. I was
“What were the customs of this leg-
endary Queen? What did she do here,
how did she go back?” I asked the
girl, nervously hoping for some clew
to a course of action which would place
us on top.
“Much is forgotten, it has been so
long. Only do we know that in the days
of our forefathers the Golden Queen
came through, and held festival for
days — then went back to her world.
That is all anyone could tell you.”
I turned to Lola. “There it is, Queen.
You dance for them, talk to them, get
them to join in and loosen up, get them
good natured — and back we go with a
load of jewels.”
“It might be a good idea to sell them
a little flesh worship, at that. It might
be worth a life or two . . .” Lola smiled
at me. “Not that I care about anyone
here . . .”
Lola stood up, raised her lovely arms,
letting the brief wooly coat slide off to
the pave. Here, contrasted with the
Dryne’s skinny, outrageously ugly
bodies; the smooth glorious rounds and
muscled planes of her perfect figure
stood out in a beauty unperceived even
by me before. She was a Goddess, here,
and to these people, an immortal. She
said several words, not meaning to be
understood, but as an opening for the
dance she began. It was one of those
slow, creepy dances; where the dancer
seems to invoke some unseen presence
— I could tell that Lola had chosen it
to give the impression of contact with
the world we had just left behind. Pos-
turing, slowly moving her limbs and
bending back the perfection of her
columnar torso to reveal all the mus-
cled ivory beauty, she built up there
in that impossible, horrible court a
vision of the worship of unseen beauty
— even while she built up by the lan-
guage of gestures the impulse to wor-
ship beauty among the Dryne. Her
beauty! She spoke of it with every
trick known to dancers, with every bur-
lesque bump and sensual shiver mingled
with a knowledge of true dramatic
dancing. And the Dryne watched with
their gloomy, wide-gashed mouths open
and drooling, their beady eyes aglitter
with desire. As she climaxed the dance
with a spread arm gesture, they fell to
their knees in unison as at a command
— and I whispered to the Dryne girl
still waiting beside our group.
“Announce her as the Golden Queen
of old time, come again to her friends,
the Dryne, to bring wisdom and pleas-
ure to them, to open again the pathway
between the worlds so that both we
and they might profit. Make it good,
and I will get you what you want — a
trip back with us.”
TN THE silence, the girl began to
chant in the squeaky, raspy lan-
guage of the Dryne, a monotonous
repetition of several phrases over and
over. What she said, I don’t know —
but for the first time the gloomy faces
lit up with a half-hearted smile, and the
heads nodded agreement right and left.
“Now tell them we must go back to
arrange for their wishes to be granted,
and that we will return to them with
gifts to startle them with our gratitude
for these gifts they have made our
The thin little brown girl spoke
again, and I wondered at the response,
the furious shaking of heads in the
negative, the discussion that soon rose
in a high ear-splitting gabble every-
where. They did not want Lola to leave
— not ever.
The King, who had watched the
dance with particularly greedy eyes,
now stood up and held up his hands to
quiet them. He began to talk, furiously
and at length.
When he was through the brown girl
translated to me.
MIRRORS OF THE QUEEN
“This stranger woman must not rule
us again as she did in the old time. We
rule ourselves, and no one or nothing
can say to us: go and come, I leave or
I stay. She shall be my woman, and
slave here with my other wives like
any common woman. We will not let
these people go hut kill them in the
sacrifice as we have always done. We
have waited too long. Let the death
Even as the girl finished her trans-
lation the three bangled priests and
several others had sprung forward, pro-
ducing nets from about their wrists,
others were running toward us with
larger nets. We were about to be made
helpless again. I looked about in des-
peration, my wits racing, seeking an
opening in circumstance. At Dan’s belt
hung his police revolver.
“Dan, there’s only one thing, a mir-
acle! You’ve got to shoot the king, or
we’re done for. Quick, man, the king
. . . with him dead, Lola will be the
Queen again ! ”
Dan, not understanding, still saw the
nets in the air over our heads, falling
slowly as did everything here.
He tugged out the gun. Sighting with
what seemed to me ridiculous care and
much too long, he blasted at the King,
once, twice. The King stood there,
looking at us in a terrified surprise,
stood — and suddenly the blood ran out
of his mouth, he pitched forward on
his face, rolled grotesquely down the
steps of the dais.
“Get on that throne, Queen,” I bel-
lowed. “Get up there and act like a
Queen, or else you’ll be darn sorry!”
Gracefully eluding the nets now al-
most upon us, Lola strode to the throne,
mounting the dais without more than
a scornful glance at the dead body. She
knew what I meant, had not missed a
single nuance of meaning about her.
Standing there proud and triumphant
and regal, she raised her hands for
silence, and spoke.
“My people, your king did not under-
stand the benevolence I mean toward
you. He caused his death by defying
my magic. Now remember hereafter
who is the Queen and your ruler, or you
too will have to die as he has!”
After her glorious, ringing tones, the
dull grey monotone of the translator
rose shrilly explaining what she had
said. As she finished, the Queen ges-
tured to the girl, and as she approached,
placed her arm about her in affection.
“Thank you very much, little one.
What is your name?”
“My name is Normea, O Queen.”
“Then announce that hereafter you
are the second in importance here, and
your words are my words until you
cause my displeasure. I am grateful
* * *
' | 'HAT was the most astounded audi-
ence that ever sat in the worn
seats of a Burlesque theatre — when we
came through. Although we had been
in that screwball world for what seemed
at least a week’s time, (and Sandra,
who had never reached there at all,
swore she had been suspended in a grey
colud for years) while Trixie and the
old woman Mary swore they had lived
for years in the quarters of the King’s
women — here on the stage of the Troc
it was only some twenty minutes later.
There was just no correlating time and
the fourth dimension so far as I could
see — if it was the fourth.
Two comedians had rushed out after
my disappearance in the fountain and
began a furious distraction to cover the
disastrous mystery of the Mirrors be-
hind the fountain.
They were still at it, chasing each
other, trying to take the clothes off a
chorus girl, slapping each other around,
and getting off their whole bag of gags
while Feinstein and the cops who had
come to answer his insistent phoning
searched the back stage and dressing
rooms, all to no avail.
We stepped out of the fountain right
between the two comedians, and the
big fat one fainted dead away.
No wonder, for each of us was carry-
ing an arm load of wired together
trinkets, and each of us was followed
by a little gremlin also loaded down
I dumped my load of glittering junk
in the center of the stage, and Sandra
and Lola took up positions on each
side. Dan stood in line with them, and
Mary and Trixie did not stop, but ran
right off the stage crying and sobbing
with frantic relief.
I started spieling, why I don’t know
— but someone had to explain the weird
appearance of the dozen little men who
had followed us through, had to ex-
plain the little knob heads that peeked
out of the fountain and shyly ducked
back, only to be replaced by another.
“We have just been on a trip to the
place where all magicians send the
people they cause to disappear, and we
brought back these gremlins to prove
what has been concealed from the de-
luded public so long: That magic is
caused by gremlins alone. Here they
are, and here are the gifts they gave us
on our visit. If any of you gentlemen
would like to vist the world of the
gremlins, just step right up. . .
The audience began to clap, to them
it was a superb act, something so far
above what they expected that they
could not express their admiration. But
there were no takers on the offer to
go through the fountain — and I could
understand why. Some of those people
must have realized they had witnessed
something so out of the ordinary as to
be utterly unbelievable to ordinary
I shook hands with each of the grem-
lins who had carried our gifts, and Lola
placed her hand on each bbny ugly
shoulder in turn and smiled her good-
by. They stepped back through the
fountain, all but one small shy brown
maid, and she had ran off the stage
after Mary and Trixie, unable to bear
the scrutiny of the battery of strange
As quickly as the last little man had
disappeared, I stepped behind the foun-
tain and gave a mirror a nudge with my
shoulder. I broke out in a cold sweat
with realization that we would have
been forever cut off if just one blunder-
ing foot had stumbled against just one
of those mystically aligned mirrors.
The big black star of distorted space
disappeared with a faint audible plop.
I gave a vast sigh of relief and disre-
garding any further attempt at a show,
turned back to the heap of jewelery.
Someone dropped the curtain in front
of us, dragged off the still unconscious
comedian. Lola turned to me, sug-
“You know, Frank, we promised to
send them back gifts to show our grati-
tude. . .
“They’re probably all dead of old
age by now, we’ve been here all of five
“It doesn’t seem right, Frank!”
“Look, Lola, you can open that trap-
door into infinity again if you want to,
but as for me, I’m leaving it strictly
alone. Would you like to marry me,
now that we’re both rich, or would you
rather go into society?”
“What would I do in society,
For a minute it didn’t register, then
I got it. She meant yes! Impossible
* * *
The only thing that ever bothers
MIRRORS OF THE QUEEN
Lola and I here in our ranch outside
Hollywood, is explaining where “Did
you get such an odd looking servant?
She’s positively hideous, and her eyes!
Distinctly malevolent ! I wouldn’t trust
her for a minute!”
There’s one thing about our ranch-
house. There isn’t a mirror in it ! Odd,
POWER THROUGH THE AIR
★ By CARTER T. WAINWRIGHT *
I N THIS age of atomic power, radar, and
rocket ships we have seen the most fantastic
dreams of the science-fictionists come true.
Nothing, any longer, seems to be impossible.
There are two gadgets, however, that the world is
waiting for — and undoubtedly they will appear
eventually. But right now there seems to have
been little progress except in one of them.
The first device that needs consideration is some
sort of mechanism for the storage of electrical
energy. Electrical batteries do not store electricity
— they store chemical energy which is changed to
electrical energy. There are two simple things
which actually store electrical energy — the con-
denser and the coil. The first stores power in
the form of an electric field and the latter stores
power in the form of a magnetic field. The
trouble is that neither of these devices stores
enough energy — mere driblets which have no
meaning as far as doing real work is concerned.
A fortune awaits the person who can invent some
practical way of storing huge quantities of elec-
trical energy that may be released under complete
The next problem is the transmission of power
without wires. This has been a dream of many
men — Nicola Tesla among the more notable, as
well as some of the best known scientists and
inventors of all time. The funny thing is this:
the wireless transmission of power actually exists
today ! — it is radio. But everyone knows the
drawback there. Not enough power is trans-
mitted and what is sent spreads over such a huge
area that it arrives at any one receiver in minute,
infinitesimal amounts. An ordinary radio re-
ceiver picks up not more than a few millionths of
a watt of electrical power. This applies to radar
transmission as well. But the latter — radar trans-
mission — supplies us with a clue of sorts to the
practical transmission of energy. In radar we are
dealing with beams of radio waves, closely focused
so as to concentrate the maximum amount of
energy on the receiving machine. By continually
narrowing the beam, by using every variety of
parabolic reflector or similar focusing aid, it is
possible to get a great deal more energy on the
Unfortunately even this isn’t the answer. Radio
and radar beams near the surface of the earth
fall off in intensity inversely as the first power of
the distance. So as long as the receiver is very
near the transmitter, a fair amount of power can
be received,' but the minute the transmitter is
moved more than a few yards away from the re-
ceiver there is little energy to be caught.
Probably the answer is that some entirely new
approach must be devised. A method must differ
radically from the conventional techniques now
employed. In an issue of Amazing Stories of
not long ago, a solution was suggested in which
the ground formed one part for a conductor and
radiation was the other. It is not likely that this
would prove feasible, because it is already being
done. That is just about how an ordinary radio
transmitter and receiver work. No, the answer
lies along entirely different lines.
That the answer will be found of course is with-
out question. It is just a matter of time. What
is so disheartening is that no new avenues of ap-
proach have even suggested themselves. At
present we know as little as we did ten years ago.
Some way must be found to concentrate radiation
into a tight, narrow beam, almost like a stiletto,
and to hurl this beam at an appropriate receiver.
Even parabolic reflectors cannot yet do that with
ordinary or high frequency radiation. Perhaps
the solution lies in some radically new type of
transmitter employing some other apparatus be-
sides an antenna to send forth its power.
E VERYONE at the bar looked at
his drink as Montrose passed by.
He peered eagerly for a recep-
tive face. When he reached the end of
the bar, Montrose knew it was the
brush-off. He stopped then, uncertain,
wondering whether to go back to the
street or try among the tables in the
Callaghan, the bartender, saw him
standing there. Cal’s broad, Irish face
softened a little. He put his hands flat
on the bar and leaned over it.
“If it’s a drink ye’re wantin’,
Monty,” he croaked, “I’ll give ye wan
—and no more.”
Montrose managed a wry grin.
“I need more than a drink, Cal.
But thanks, anyway.” He caught sight
of Jack Rann, sitting alone at a table
in the corner. “I — I have to se Rann.”
“Whatever ye need, he won’t give it
to ye.” Callaghan’s voice was bitter,
Montrose squared his broad shoul-
ders and strode to the table in the cor-
ner. Behind him, a juke box blared
above a rumble of conversation, but he
didn’t hear it.
Jack Rahn looked up as Montrose
stood over him.
“ ’Lo, chum.” The little man’s voice
Frank Montrose needed money
badly so he sold bis body, to be
delivered after his death — or so he
thought . . .
too late. Frank Montrose screamed hoarsely as the fender of the truck struck him . . .
was flat. He did not ask Montrose to
“Hello, Jack. Look, I want to talk
“I’m expecting company, chum.”
“It’ll only take a minute, Jack. Lis-
Montrose paused. When Rann made
no move, Montrose pulled out a chair
and sat down. He stared across the
scarred table-top at the thin face, trying
not to hate the evil little man.
Jack Rann gave him a slow stare that
took in the frayed collar, the wrinkled
tie, unpressed suit.
“Yeah, I know.” Montrose’s mouth
twisted. “I look like a tramp.”
“Chum, you are a tramp.”
“Maybe. Everybody isn’t as lucky
as you, Jack. Most people have their
ups and downs. Right now, I’m down.”
Rar.n shrugged. He sipped slowly at
“This is what I wanted to see you
about. I’ve got a terrific tip on a
Rann’s laugh grated through the
smoky air. Two men at the bar turned
their heads sharply toward the noise,
then looked quickly back at their
drinks. Rann’s laugh was a rare — and
“Save your breath, Monty,” Rann
said. “This hot tip — you want to bor-
row the dough from me for a bet.”
“Yes. But this is my chance! It
may sound screwy — but I’ve got a real
hunch! I know that horse is going to
win ! ” He gripped the table’s edge with
both hands as he leaned forward.
“Lend me a hundred bucks, Jack and
I’ll give you half the take. Five
Montrose leaned forward still. In-
wardly, he writhed at the sight of the
gloating face before him. He hated
himself for asking Rann for the money.
But he had to. He knew the horse
would win and he had to bet on it.
“It’s a cinch, Jack!”
Rann shook his head slowly, tantaliz-
ingly. His slate eyes showed a brief
flash of mirth, were cold again.
“I’ve done you favors, Jack. A
hundred bucks isn’t much.”
“It is to me. That’s why I’ve got a
TV /TONTROSE leaned back in his
chair, expelling his pent-up breath
in a deep sigh. He stared down at his
hands, disgusted at the grime beneath
his nails. Five thousand dollars would
paw for a lot of manicures.
He peered up at Rann.
“You don’t know where I could get
The little gambler started to shake
his head, then stopped. He laughed,
showing all his teeth.
“Why Monty, I think I do. That is,
if you really want the dough.”
He laughed again, enjoying the mad
hope in Montrose’s face.
“Of course I want it.”
“Well, then, sell your body. It’s
not worth much, but you’ll get a hun-
dred for it.”
“Sell your body, I said. To a hos-
“You little — !” Montrose pulled him-
self out of his chair. “Sell my body!
What kind of malarkey is that!”
Montrose knew then he had had
enough. He was still man enough to
step on a rat. He drew back his fist.
“All right, dope,” Rann snapped.
“I’m trying to give you a tip.” Ignoring
the threatening fist, he took out a cigar-
ette case, selected one and lit it. “Any
big hospital will buy your body. You
just sign a paper, so your body’s theirs
when you die, and they give you a
CONTRACT FOR A BODY
He grinned maliciously.
“They cut it up, of course, but what
do you care?”
“You’re not fooling me?”
“Seems to me there’s a hospital over
on Maple Street. It won’t cost you
anything to find out.”
'HP HERE was a dim light over the
entrance. Montrose opened a gate
that clanked a little and walked softly
toward the door. It didn’t look like a
very big hospital and a heavy silence
seemed to brood over it. Above him,
on the fourth floor, a single window
Why the fight, Montrose wondered.
Was some poor devil dying? Or was it
the surgery? Montrose had a momen-
tary vision of men around a table,
cutting, cutting. ... He shuddered.
He could see his own body, stiff in
death, but robbed of death’s dignity.
“Damn it!” he muttered. “I can’t
But within him a voice snickered,
what’s the difference between that and
the potter’s field?
There wasn’t any, of course. And
Rann was probably lying. Probably. . .
Montrose ran up the steps and
pushed through the doors.
The hall was dim to the point of
blackness. Behind the receptionist’s
curved counter was a switchboard.
Above this, a single lamp was the hall’s
sole fight. A man in a white coat sat
at the board, dozing over a magazine.
Montrose edged up to him. The
orderly looked up sleepily.
“I— I. . . .”
Montrose’s throat went suddenly dry.
He was overcome with an acute em-
“Yes? Are you ill?”
“Oh, no! Not at all! Not at all!”
It occurred to him that his value
might be lessened if they didn’t think
him perfectly sound.
“No,” he said again, “I’m okay.
Never been sick a day in my life!”
The ordely frowned.
“Well, then . . . ?”
“I — well, I want to sell my body.”
The orderly was wide awake now.
He blinked at Montrose, then sniffed
“I’m not drunk!” Montrose exclaim-
ed. “I just want to sell the hospital my
body to use after I’m dead. To ex-
He sighed. It was over. Now, in a
few minutes, he’d have the money. But
the orderly was grinning.
“Gosh, I suppose they still do that,
once in a while,” he chuckled. “There’s
no law against it. And I suppose a big,
public hospital can always use a cada-
ver. But not us.”
“Nope. Didn’t you read the sign?
We just handle mental cases. We’re a
The inescapable odor of hospital
hung on the air; the pungent blend of
drugs, medicines and sickness. It
fogged Montrose’s mind. There was
a hazy, inner vision, of a horse gallop-
ing across the finish fine — without even
a dime of Montrose money on it. And
there was Rann’s face, leering his secret
smile. Montrose hated Rann, then.
And, no matter what later happened,
the hatred never completely left him.
Still in the fog, he didn’t hear a door
open down the hall, or the sound of
quiet, but assured footsteps approach-
“Oh, good evening, Dr. Aloysio,” the
orderly’s voice was respectful. “I didn’t
know you were still here, sir.”
“Yes. A knotty problem of re-
The word snapped Montrose’s con-
sciousness into the clear. He turned
toward the doctor.
1V/TONTROSE saw a long, dark face,
smooth shaven; deep-set eyes be-
hind black-rimmed glasses. A fore-
head that swooped in a pale, high dome
before it met black hair.
The eyes behind the glasses confused
him. His voice faltered to a stop.
“I told you!” cried the orderly.
“Don’t bother the doctor!”
Dr. Aloysio’s smile was benign.
“Is there something I can do?” he
“Oh, no, sir!” exclaimed the orderly.
“This man had the idea that we’d buy
his body. I told him we wouldn’t and
referred him to Generali”
The doctor chuckled deep in his
throat. He beamed at Montrose.
“But the body seems saleable
enough,” he smiled. “Sturdy and
“Don’t kid with me,” choked Mont-
rose. “I’m serious!”
“My dear sir,” the doctor raised a
pale hand. “I, too am serious. If you
will just step into my office, I will show
you just how serious I am!”
“What!” gaped the orderly.
Dr. Aloysio’s eyes blazed behind his
glasses. The orderly gulped, then sat
down hastily. He tried to pick up his
magazine and it fell to the floor.
Dr. Aloysio smiled at Montrose.
“We experiment from time to time,”
he murmured. “You offer your body
for experiment, of course?”
“Sure. Do what you damn please
with it. After I’m dead!”
“By all means, after you’re dead!”
The doctor chuckled again. The
orderly gave him a sidelong look. The
man seemed afraid— and amazed at his
fear. He stared furtively after them
as the two entered Dr. Aloysio’s office.
Montrose stood in the center of the
room, trying to focus on what he saw.
More dimness. A stand-lamp outlined
easy chairs, a wall of books. A deep,
rich carpet was beneath his feet. Then,
out of the darkest corner, a rotund
shape waddled toward him.
“My associate,” murmured Dr. Aloy-
sio. “Dr. Fesler, Mr. — ?”
“Montrose. Frank Montrose.”
“How do you do, sir?” Dr. Fesler’s
hand was soft and moist. “You will
pardon the darkness. I cannot stand
“His eyes,” said Aloysio. He moved
behind Montrose, over to the vague
bulk of a desk. “I’m afraid, Fesler,
we’ll have to have the desk-lamp, at
Fesler put a hand in front of his eyes
as the light came on. Montrose saw
that he was wearing dark glasses. Both
men stared calmly at him; Aloysio,
erect by the desk, Fesler, directly in
front of him. After a long pause, Fes-
ler turned and rolled back to his dark
corner. Still, they said nothing.
Montrose tried to laugh. His throat
was very dry.
“I suppose you think I’m crazy,”
his voice was so high it almost broke.
“But I need money badly. I’ll sell you
my body for — whatever the usual fee
“And we’ll buy it, won’t we, Fesler?”
“We surely will,” Fesler’s voice was
“It is a not unusual request,” said
Aloysio. “I remember when I interned
at General — but that’s neither here nor
He bent down, opened a drawer and
took out a pad.
“Please feel no embarrassment, Mr.
Montrose. This is a definite contribu-
CONTRACT FOR A BODY
tion to science. You are really to be
“Oh, indeed,” Fesler laughed.
TT IS soft laugh annoyed Montrose.
-*• -*■ And the other one, Aloysio, talked
much. Oh God, if that horse came in,
he’d never, never have to ask anyone
for money again!
Dr. Aloysio wrote on the pad, tore
off a sheet and wrote again on another
sheet. Finally, he looked up.
“If you will just step this way, Mr.
Montrose.” Montrose reached the desk
in two strides. “You see, I’ve just
written a simple agreement, in dupli-
cate. You sign them and keep one for
yourself. Use my pen, sir.”
Montrose bent over the desk. He
heard no movement, but as he reached
for the pen, he could hear Fesler breath-
ing beside him.
It seemed simple enough.
“I, Frank Montrose, of my own free
will, do hereby assign to the full posses-
sion of Dr. Izak Aloysio, my physical
body, same to be delivered to him upon
my death. In consideration thereof, I
have received one hundred dollars.”
“Sounds like I’m selling you my body
now," he muttered.
Fesler started to speak, but Aloysio’s
laugh cut him off.
“Indeed you are, sir,” Aloysio nod-
ded. “As soon as you sign and I pay
you, the body’s mine. But I don’t
think the law would allow me to tamper
with it until you are completely through
“I guess that’s right.”
Montrose began to write. His hand
trembled. He could see that horse
again, ten lengths in the lead and Frank
Montrose had a hundred dollars riding
the nag at one hundred-to-one!
He straightened. Both men sighed
deeply. Dr. Fesler turned away and
lumbered back to his chair in the
corner. Dr. Aloysio’s eyes followed
him and then Montrose was amazed to
hear him snicker. Aloysio grinned
widely for a moment, then his face
smoothed and he turned to Montrose.
“Now, sir,” he said, “for the money.”
He took out a wallet and extracted
ten new ten-dollar bills. He presented
them to Montrose with a flourish.
“A moderate price, Mr. Montrose.
I fear I am the gainer by it.”
Montrose stared at the money in his
hand. Feverish anticipation had dulled
his capacity for realising Now, the
money was his, but he scarcely felt it.
He lifted his head.
“I — I — thanks. I guess I’ll be going
. . .if there’s nothing else?”
“No sir. Not a thing.”
Much later, as Montrose made his
night long hike to the track, he won-
dered vaguely why they hadn’t attempt-
ed to get more information. They
didn’t know who he was, where he lived,
nothing. What guarantee had they
that they could collect when — when the
“ f T'URN off that light!” growled Dr.
Dr. Aloysio grinned.
“You were always a fool, brother!
Not the least bit of imagination! Why
pick a body — when bodies must have
darkness — ”
“Turn off that light!” bellowed Fes-
“All right , all right!” The study
was in darkness. “As I was saying,”
continued Aloysio’s smooth voice, “I
am an artist. I was Dr. Aloysio, per-
fect and complete. Not something that
couldn’t stand light!”
He stared at Dr. Fesler.
“Even now,” he said, “there is still
something shapeless about you.”
“That’s because Fm leaving. Fm
sick oj your babble!”
Aloysio’s laugh was not pleasant to
“You’re angry. You’re beginning to
see the possibilities oj our wager and
you know that I’m going to win. Yes,
I’m going to win ”
He sat quiet in the dark.
'C'RANK Montrose turned from the
-*• rail by the finish line and started
toward the tunnel that led to the mutuel
windows. This time, there was no
thronging crowd of winners surging
down the tunnel. Very few people pick
a hundred-to-one shot. As he walked
along, he realized he had known all
along that the horse would win.
He’d made so many wrong guesses
the past year. But this had been no
guessl This time he had been certain.
The mutuel clerk relaxed his habitual
impassivity as he counted out ten
“You’re the top winner today, pal,”
“Did I have the only ticket on the
nag?” asked Montrose.
“Well, I had one!” laughed a voice
Montrose took the money from the
clerk and turned around. He hadn’t
seen much of her type lately. Tall —
healthy — beautiful in a sharp, clean
way. Grey eyes met his in a level,
direct stare. He found himself meeting
“We’re smart,” he chuckled.
The clerk gave her two hundred
dollars. Montrose stood, watching her
frank delight as she scooped the money
into her purse.
He laughed aloud.
The girl gave him a questioning
“I’m standing here with ten thousand
dollars,” he explained, “and I haven’t
a cigarette to my name!”
“Here, have one of mine! I’m not
as rich as you, but I do have cigar-
They moved aside to make room for
the bettors on the last race. Montrose
felt through his pockets. He didn’t
even have a match!
“That was my last hundred,” he con-
fessed. “I didn’t have cigarette money.
A gateman pal of mine let me in the
There was nothing rude in the way
she looked at him. His grey eyes
looked briefly at his clothes, then long
and searchingly at his face.
“You were very brave — or very des-
perate.” Her voice was puzzled.
“Just desperate,” he grinned.
She was nice to look at. The powder
blue suit fitted her trim figure perfectly.
Her brown hair, with a natural wave,
curved softly about her face. Mont-
rose smiled to himself. Why not push
his luck a little farther?
“Look,” he said, “why don’t you help
me celebrate? Have dinner with me.”
She frowned a little.
“It’s unconventional, I know.” He
was very suave. “But I’m playing a
hunch again. We‘U have a good time.
I feel it!”
“We — ell — your hunches seem good
ones, Mr. . . ?”
“Montrose. Frank Montrose.”
“I’m Marcia Powers.”
Marcia Powers held out her hand.
Her clasp was firm and warm.
Much later, they sat in a quiet little
place that Montrose had known long
before. So long, that the headwaiter
had forgotten him, but, on the strength
of Marcia’s looks and Montrose’s new
suit he remembered. They drank a
long drink and talked quietly.
FTER a while, Marcia sat silent,
staring at the table-cloth.
CONTRACT FOR A BODY
“I’m rich,” smiled Montrose. “I’ll
offer two pennies for your thoughts.”
She raised her head slowly.
“This has been a curious day. The
first time I ever went to a horse race
and — the first time I ever went out with
a stranger ”
“If I’m still a stranger, then it isn’t
my lucky day after all!”
“Frank,” Marcia’s voice was serious.
“May I ask you a question?”
“What have you done with that ten
Montrose was amazed to find that he
didn’t consider the question imperti-
“I left about eight thousand in the
safe at my hotel. I bought some
clothes, spent a little tonight. I’ve got
about fifteen hundred on me.”
Her eyes widened.
“Do you honestly expect to spend
fifteen hundred dollars tonight?”
Montrose looked off toward the
orchestra. He had forgotten his plans
for this evening. Certainly he had
planned to get this girl home early.
Then over to Callahan’s and get that
bastard Rann in a crap game. Yes,
he’d promised himself a lot of things
for that night — and he’d done just a
few of them.
“I don’t know,” he said at last. “I
always carried — carry, a lot of money
Marcia reached across the table and
covered his hand with hers. Surprised,
he turned to face her.
“You’ve been awfully broke, haven’t
you?” As he started to protest, she
shook her head. “No, Frank. You
looked awfully seedy at the track. I
don’t know, really, why I went out with
you. Somehow, I liked you. I still
do. Very much.”
He could not cope with her honesty.
He couldn’t tell this girl what he
wanted to do. Or did he still want to
do those things? Looking down at
her hand, feeling her fingers over his,
Montrose decided that he did not.
“Frank,” Marcia went on, “I don’t
live in this city. I’m a small-town girl
from upstate. I’m such a hick, I’ve
never seen a horse-race before today.
I made that bet by sticking a hairpin
through the program.”
“That’s the best system,” he mur-
She smiled briefly, then her face was
“But I’m very happy where I live,
Frank. Why don’t you take your
money and come up there? You would
be happy, I think. You could do
And why not? Who was Jack Rann
— the guy who’d stack a deck against
his own brother? Who was Callahan —
whose charity was a single drink of
rotgut? Last night, Montrose had
walked along the bar, knowing the final
humiliation of being snubbed by pals
fearing a touch. Who, indeed, was
Frank Montrose — who had to sell his
body for a hundred dollars!
Montrose took Marcia’s hand in both
“Lead the way, my dear,” he said.
T'Xif. ALOYSIO and Dr. Fester were
not sitting in the office this time.
In fact, they were not sitting at all.
And Dr. Fessler had a smirk on his
“If we had done it my way," he
chuckled, “he would never have met
the girl. It’s not working out according
to plan, is it?’’
Dr. Aloysio laughed aloud.
“My pretty brother,’’ he sneered.
“My pretty, foolish brotherl I told
you that you were no artist — that you
lacked imagination!" He rubbed his
hands together. “Can’t you see it will
be better this way? Can’t you imagine
that we will have more sport this way?”
Dr. Fesler scowled.
“All right, all right. But I still think
the old ways are best.”
Dr. Aloysio shook his head pity-
“No imagination. No imagination.”
A/T ONTROSE parked his coupe at
the curb in front of the church.
The car was like Montrose himself,
neat, trim, conservative. He switched
off the motor and looked at Marcia,
sitting beside him.
Montrose laughed softly.
“You don’t seem nervous,” Marcia
“Too much has happened,” he
replied. “The year has gone by too
“It has been a good year, hasn’t it,
“A good year? Hmmn. Sole owner
of a nice little construction outfit.
Frank Montrose, Builder! Twenty
thousand in the bank! And...”
“It looks very much as though I’m
being dragged to the preacher to see
about getting married!”
“Do you like the idea very much?”
“When it’s the loveliest girl this side
of Paradise! This side? Say, I’ll in-
“Frank! That’s sacrilege. And in
front of a church too!”
“In three weeks I’ll say it inside of
He lifted her chin and looked at her.
God, Montrose thought, I’m lucky!
This girl — this wonderful girl — what
hasn’t she done for me!
“I think we’d better go in,” Marcia
said at last. “Our appointment’s for
He nodded and let go her chin.
Montrose reached for the door handle,
then — his hand dropped back.
He turned toward Marcia.
“What — what is it?” he stammered.
“You had the queerest look... of
strain ... as though you were lifting
Montrose forced a grin.
“I suppose I’m a little embarrassed,
darling. I haven’t been inside a church
“Is that it! Why, you’ll love Dr.
Eddison. He’s a real person — -there’s
nothing stuffy about him at all!”
Marcia opened her door. This time,
Montrose forced himself to get out and
started around to her side of the car.
What the devil was wrong with him?
His feet dragged, his whole body
seemed not to co-ordinate.
Montrose lifted a hand to help Mar-
cia from the car, missed her elbow and
Marcia made a joke of it.
“You’re not supposed to lose your
gallantry until after we’re married,”
Montrose tried to grin.
“I — I tried to help you,” he defended
himself. “I think I slipped. Or you
were too fast for me.”
Marcia was too fast for him going
across the sidewalk. He could barely
force one foot in front of the other.
Suddenly, Frank Montrose was scared.
At the edge of the church’s lawn he
could move no further.
He was paralyzed!
TV/T ARCIA looked back over her
shoulder. At sight of his strain-
ing, sweating face, she rushed back to
“Darling! Are you ill?”
What could he say to her? He tried
to turn away from her, back out of her
CONTRACT FOR A BODY
He could turn!
As soon as Montrose tried to move
away from the church his feet moved.
He took another step. Toward the car.
The paralysis left him.
Marcia hurried after him, grabbed
“Frank, darling! Say something!”
What could he say? What kind of
paralysis was this? Why could he
move in one direction only? Mont-
rose tried to think very fast.
“I — I don’t feel so hot, honey.”
Sweat poured down his face. “Suppose
it’s nervous indigestion — probably been
working too hard.”
“You do look ill, Frank. I’m fright-
ened! I’m taking you to a doctor,
Oh, no! No doctors! Something
was stirring, far back of Montrose’s
consciousness. He could not define it
— he didn’t full realize it — but it made
him feel strangely. .. .unclean. He
had to be alone. Alone.
“Look,” he croaked. “Just take me
home. A couple of hours rest and I’ll
be okay. I’ve had this before and I
know just what to do.”
“Well, all right.” But Marcia still
looked uncertain. “You are looking a
little better, thank goodness. I never
saw anyone look lie — ”.
“Never mind,” Montrose said hastily.
“Just take me home and let me sleep.
We can visit Dr. Eddison tomorrow.”
As they drove away, Montrose lay
back in the seat and closed his
eyes. His body felt completely relaxed.
He wriggled his toes, surreptitiously
flexed his arms. Movement was free
But crawling along the back of his
mind, there was something. .. .Some
thought that would explain all this.
And the explanation would not be
Marcia took him to his apartment,
made him lie down on the couch and
covered him with a blanket.
“When you wake up, call me,” she
ordered, “I’ll fix your lunch. And
your dinner, too.”
She smoothed back his hair and
smiled down at him.
“You’ll make a wonderful wife,” he
“You go to sleep — or you won’t make
such a much of a husband! Fainting
on the public streets!”
“Did not faint!”
He grinned and closed his eyes. Her
lips brushed his and she was gone.
Montrose did not see the worried look
she gave him just before closing the
Montrose waited for a while. Then
he arose, went to the kitchen for a
bottle and glass and came back to the
couch. Carefully, methodically, he
poured and drank three drinks.
The rye failed to warm him. It did
not relax his mind, allowing all his
thoughts to form. Montrose poured a
fifth drink. He raised it to his lips,
then stopped. It came to him, then,
that this was the way he used to meet
problems. Drink them out of existence.
That had stopped with the coming of
But you couldn’t tell Marcia that you
had a one-way paralysis. Why not?
Well, you just couldn’t!
1V/T ONTROSE stood up. He stretch-
ed slowly, raising himself on tip-
toe. His body felt fine. Clenching his
fists at his sides, he jogged in place for
several minutes. Swinging his arms
violently, he performed several spec-
tacular bending exercises.
“I’m all right,” Montrose gloated.
“I’m thirty-four and I’ll bet I could run
a hundred in ten flat. In fact, I’ll go
over to the gym and prove it!
He was a little tight, of course. But
as he walked over to the gym, his stride
was long and even and his body was
Montrose looked at his nude body
before putting on a gym suit. Not a
blemish. Stomach flat, shoulders broad.
A damn’ good body!
“Hi, Frank! What is this, an Adonis
Dr. Sam Halsey, his chunky body in
gym trunks, stood at the end of the row
of lockers, grinning widely at him.
Montrose blushed, then laughed.
“Hello, Sami I’m developing a new
fixation for you to play around with.
I’ve fallen in love with my big toe!”
“Listen, bud,” grinned Halsey, “you
wouldn’t expect a big-shot alienist like
me to fool with that, would you?”
“All right, big shot, just how would
you cure it?”
“Simple,” Halsey said with mock
gravity. “Just amputate the toe!”
The both laughed heartily.
“Say, Frank, how about a few fast
rounds? I haven’t had the gloves on
for a month.”
“Swell,” nodded Montrose. “Check
’em out, will you, while I get a suit
Montrose slid easily between the
ropes and went to one corner of the
ring. The padded canvas felt light and
springy beneath his feet. He looked
warily over at Halsey, now going into
his customary crouch. As Montrose
edged out into the ring, he remembered
the drinks. Have to keep Halsey away
from the body, today.
“Okay?” called Halsey.
“You may fire when ready, Gridley.”
Halsey hunched his shoulders and
charged. It was his usual attack.
Montrose, taller and with a decided
edge in reach, usually side-stepped that
first rush and did some deadly work
with a left jab.
Not today, however.
Montrose extended his hand for the
jab. That is, he tried to extend it.
His left, and then his right, came up
and covered his face — like a child shut-
ting his gaze off from some feared thing.
Nor did Montrose side-step. Instead,
he jumped wildly backward, bounced
against the ropes, then turned his back
to Halsey and ran away from him.
“Hey!” he grunted. “What goes?”
Montrose crashed into the ropes at
the opposite side of the ring.
“Don’t hit me!” he yelled. “You
mustn’t hurt me!”
Halsey dropped his hands.
“Huh! What did you say?”
Montrose dropped his hands. He
stared at Halsey, eyes glassy with fear.
Halsey frowned at that fixed stare.
Then, Montrose shook his head. Intel-
ligent fear replaced the hysteria in his
“Wha — what did I say?” he stam-
Halsey told him.
Montrose looked down at his gloved
t T ALSEY went over to him. He laid
-*• a glove on Montrose’s shoulder,
noticing the involuntary wince as he
raised the glove.
“Tell me, Frank.” It was the
psychiatrist speaking now. “What’s
Montrose did not lift his head.
“I — oh hell, Sam! I might as well
tell the truth! I was scared! I had to
cover up — run away, so you couldn’t
“You were afraid of getting hurt?”
“That’s it!” Montrose raised his
head and looked beseechingly at the
other. “You know I’m not a coward,
“Sure I do,” soothed Halsey. “Now,
you and I are getting dressed and then
CONTRACT FOR A BODY
we’ll go over to my office. Something’s
bothering you, fellow, and I’ll find out
what it is!”
They had quite a talk. Halsey
opened a bottle of very good Scotch,
let Montrose have all he wanted. In
half an hour, Montrose was telling the
story of his life. When he had finished,
Halsey fiddled with his key chain for
a while, then grinned at Montrose.
“I envy you,” he said. “You’ve been
places and done things.”
“I’m a lot happier right here in
“With a girl like Marcia! You
should be, Frank!”
Halsey cleared his throat.
“You see, Frank, Marcia’s really the
crux of the matter. Tell me, does she
know about this deal you made with
“God, no! As a matter of fact, I’d
forgotten it myself — until today. ...”
“I see. Well, fellow, you haven’t
forgotten about it! At least, your sub-
conscious has made quite a play with
“What’s that got to do with Marcia?”
“A guilt sense. Subconsciously, you
believe that your body doesn’t belong
to you any more. You can’t marry
Marcia with a body that doesn’t belong
to you. It’s cheating yourself and
Montrose fiddled with his empty
“That sounds pretty far-fetched to
me, Sam,” he muttered. “I don’t quite
“Look.” Halsey’s voice was patient.
“You’re a high strung, imaginative fel-
low. You’re deeply in love with Mar-
cia. You feel that she has re-made
your life — which she has. And because
of this — this sale of your body — you
don’t feel worthy of her. That
“And that’s why I — I couldn’t go
in the church?”
‘Then what do I do?”
Halsey leaned back in his chair, grin-
“I wish I could cure all my patients
as easily.” He looked at his watch.
“Let’s see, it’s noon. You get the one
o’clock plane to the city. Go over to
the hospital and buy back that damn’
bill of sale. Tear it up — come back
here — and I’ll get tight at your wed-
Montrose hesitated, then rose slowly
from his chair.
“Are you sure, Sam?”
“Of course I am!”
“We — ell ... it sounds good. But
I’ve had the feeling as though this was
something I didn’t know about — some-
thing I, personally, couldn’t control . . .”
rjE PAID the driver and stood for
a moment, staring curiously at the
small hospital. Actually, he was seeing
it for the first time. Montrose walked
slowly up the tiled walk. His hand
slowed a little as he reached to push
open the door. A vague uneasiness
crept over him.
A brisk, middle-aged woman in a
severe suit looked up from the switch-
board as Montrose approached
“I’d like to see Dr. Aloysio.”
“Dr. Aloysio does not see anyone
without an appointment.”
“I think he will know me. Mr.
Frank Montrose. I’m in the city for
just an hour or two and it’s very
“All right,” the woman said doubt-
fully. “I’ll call him.”
Montrose turned away as she plugged
in the call. The air was still heavy
with the hospital smell. But, in the
afternoon light, the place was certainly
different. More cheerful. He tried to
picture the haunting gloom of his pre-
“Dr. Aloysio does not know you,
sir.” Montrose swung back to face her,
“If you will state your business, he will
give you an appointment.”
Montrose frowned. Had the doctor
forgotten? Of course not! No one,
even J. P. Morgan, forgets giving out
a hundred dollars. Then what went on
“Ask Dr. Aloysio to think again,”
Montrose snapped. “Just mention one
hundred dollars to him!”
The woman’s mouth tightened.
“Dr. Aloysio has an excellent memo-
ry,” she grated. “He said that he had
never heard of you!”
Montrose paled. The woman flinch-
ed a little before the blazing fire in his
eyes. Blind, hot anger surged over
him. The day had been terrible
enough without this last, unreasonable
“I think,” he grated, “that I can soon
convince Dr. Aloysio that he does re-
He strode down the corridor to the
office door. The woman started to rise,
then hastily plugged in a line.
Montrose jerked open the door and
stalked into the office of Dr. Aloysio.
Dr. Aloysio was seated at the big
“Who are you, sir.” There was
restrained anger in the clipped tones.
“What do you want?”
Montrose stood in front of the desk.
He leaned forward, palms of both
hands flat on the desk’s oaken top.
“Take a good look, Dr. Aloysio,”
he said as calmly as he could. “Don’t
you remember me now?”
The cold eyes behind the glasses
gave no hint of recognition.
“I do not, sir.”
The doctor’s phone rang. The doc-
tor ignored Montrose completely as he
lifted it from its cradle.
“Yes? Yes, he is here now. If I
do not phone you in five minutes,
summon two orderlies!”
That was wrong. Even in his anger,
Montrose remembered the other voice.
The Dr. Aloysio had been pompous,
The devil with that! A man’s voice
is different at different times! And
he wasn’t here to worry about this
damned doctor’s vocal characteristics.
Montrose took out his wallet and took
out a hundred dollars.
“Let’s cut out the foolery, Dr. Aloy-
sio,” he snapped. “There is a hundred
dollars. Take it and give me back the
agreement ! ”
Dr. Aloysio stared at the bill.
“My dear sir,” he said, “I do not
know you at all. Still less do I know
what you are talking about!”
He almost convinced Montrose. The
hand that held the money wavered,
drew back. Dr. Aloysio permitted
himself a small nod. That jerked
Montrose back to his taut fury.
rTOLDING himself in as best he
could, Montrose jerked out the
story of the episode of a year ago. Dr.
Aloysio's eyes widened, then narrowed
in a stare of clinical appraisal. When
Montrose had finished, he arose, walked
around the desk and stood in front of
“Mr. Montrose,” he said, “you are
obviously not drunk. From a cursory
examination, I would think you sane —
sane but, at present, emotionally un-
balanced. You —
“I did not come here for an examina-
tion!” Montrose’s voice rose. “Damn
it to hell — I’ve had a bad day — I’m
not going to stand here and let you
make it worse. I don’t know what
CONTRACT FOR A BODY
your motive is and I don’t give a damn I
But, damn you — tell me you didn’t
write this! If you can!”
Montrose tossed the money on the
desk. It slipped to the floor, but neither
man noticed it. His whole body was
trembling as Montrose jerked out his
wallet again. His fingers probed awk-
wardly for the agreement., found it,
creased and worn. He smoothed it out,
held it in front of the doctor’s face.
“Take a look at that! You wrote
it and your fat friend, Fesler, watched
you write it!”
“Fesler? Dr. Fesler?”
“Oh, God!” cried Montrose. “Won’t
you stop it! He was here in the office
Dr. Aloysio lost his impersonal calm
for the first time. His voice was hesi-
tant as he said,
“My good friend Dr. Fesler died
three years ago.”
There was a loud knock at the door.
“Go away, boys,” called Aloyiso,
“it’s all right.”
As retreating footsteps sounded down
the hall, Aloysio held out his hand.
“Let me see that agreement, please.”
Montrose handed it over. Aloysio
looked at it carefully. He sighed. Most
of his professional aplomb came back.
“I did not write that, Mr. Montrose.
Wait,” as Montrose opened his mouth.
He opened a drawer in the desk. “Here
is one of my notebooks. Compare the
Montrose did so. The room teetered
crazily. His anger left him, to be re-
placed with a crawling, snickering fear.
The handwriting of the agreement was
not that of Dr. Aloysio. From afar off,
Montrose seemed to hear a wild, jeer-
“Here, man!” cried Dr. Aloysio.
Montrose felt his arm taken, was
steered to a chair. He felt himself fall
into an easy chair, heard the doctor
move back to his desk. Then the sharp
fumes of smelling salts cleared his
Dr. Aloysio put the glass stopper
back on the bottle.
“I’m sorry,” his voice was kind. “I
didn’t understand. You seem to be the
victim of some ghastly kind of joke.”
But Montrose did not quit just yet.
He forced himself to sit erect.
“Dr. Fesler’s dead, eh!” he croaked.
“How about the fellow at the switch-
Dr. Aloysio shook his head.
“We had to discharge him about ten
months ago for drunkenness. He was
totally unreliable.” He took out cigar-
ettes, gave one to Montrose and lit it.
“You see, Mr. Montrose, at the time
you mention, I myself was in bed with
a severe attack of pleurisy. I can only
conclude that someone, with the con-
nivance of the man at the switchboard,
played a joke on you.”
Montrose stumbled to his feet. He
stared at Dr. Aloysio for a long while,
then began to laugh crazily.
“Somebody bought my body!” he
cried. “Where am I going to buy it
Dr. Aloysio took Montrose’s arm.
Montrose shook it off and staggered
toward the door.
“Going to get drunk,” he mumbled.
“Drink all this — all of it — right out of
“You can’t do that!” cried the doc-
tor. “Stay here until you calm
But Frank Montrose had gone
through the door. As he reeled down
the corridor, Montrose saw nothing of
his surroundings, but his crazed mind
seemed to hear jeering laughter.
‘‘"DUDDY,” said the cab driver.
" “This hack aint a hotel room!”
The nasal voice penetrated Mont-
rose’s consciousness. He opened his
eyes. Montrose shook his head, then
stopped abruptly. Leaning over the
back of the driver’s seat, the cabbie
grinned without mirth.
“You look like a wreck, buddy,” he
“I feel it.” Montrose’s voice was
thick. “Where are we?”
“We’re at the airport. Remember?”
“Airport! What airport? My God
— am I still in the city?”
The driver nodded.
“Yep.” He glanced casually over
Montrose’s wrinkled suit, soiled shirt;
his eye paused at the unshaven chin.
“I would say, pal, that you’ve seen a
lot of our fair city.”
Montrose turned his head. Looking
outside, he was surprised to see it was
“It’s morning,” he muttered.
“Sure. Monday morning —
Monday! Montrose had come down
on Friday. What had happened — a
three day drunk? Why? There was
a whole covey of butterflies in his
stomach, but he forced himself to think.
And slowly the picture came back.
Of the doctor and his terrible proof
that he’d never written that purchase
agreement. Of Montrose running from
the hospital, helpless, alone — making
for the nearest bar. Then, lots of
bars. Drunk. The old way out, the
way he’d always taken when things
“Go on to the airport,” Montrose
cried. “Is there a plane soon?”
“Yeah. You got any dough left,
Montrose opened his wallet. A ticket
and a single ten were all he had left.
The driver nodded at the money and
started up his cab. Montrose saw
Marcia’s picture in his billfold. Mar-
A three day drunk — while Marcia
had probably gone crazy with worry.
No — Frank Montrose was the crazy
one. What had been this business of
a body? A body sold to a doctor that
didn’t exist. Montrose laughed. May-
be the body didn’t exist, either.
The noise of the plane’s motors was
definitely not soothing. Montrose clasp-
ed his aching head between his hands
and tried to think. He couldn’t. It
might have been the hangover — very
likely it was, but he couldn’t quite
focus his mind on any one matter.
When he arrived in Pleasanton, the
problem of Marcia forced everything
else from his mind. For a while, horror
went away, replaced by a purely normal
worry as to how he was going to square
things with her.
He had just finished drying himself
after an icy shower when his doorbell
rang. It was Marcia.
“Frank! Oh, Frank — what hap-
pened?. Are you all right?”
She held out her hands and for a
brief moment he was safe in her em-
brace, everything else forgotten. Then,
she drew back.
“Frank,” she said slowly. “I think
you owe me an awful lot of explana-
Marcia looked closely at him. Mont-
rose hadn’t shaved yet and it would
take several night’s sleep to clear up
his eyes. Montrose jammed his fists
tight into the pockets of his dressing
gown. He tensed with the effort of
meeting her eyes, but couldn’t quite
“I guess I went on a tear, honey,”
Marcia looked at his clothes, still
heaped where he had thrown them.
Then she walked slowly over to a win-
dow and looked out.
CONTRACT FOR A BODY
“I guess you did,” she said. “Why?”
“I don’t know.”
Marcia turned and faced him, but
she did not move toward him.
“Frank,” her voice was low but dear.
“Do you really want to marry me?”
“Good God!” Pain rang in his voice.
“How can you doubt it!”
“Frank.” her tone was controlled,
“your behavior at the church was very
strange. I believed you when you said
you were ill, yet— I couldn’t help think-
ing that you looked. . . .frightened.”
]\/f ONTROSE’S mouth twisted. God
forbid she should ever know just
how scared he’d been,
her. . . .
But not of
“Then,” Marcia went on, “you called
me and said you must fly down to the
city. You were to be back for dinner.
You were gone three days — without a
word to me.”
The sunlight streamed through the
window, giving her loveliness a golden
frame. Her beauty hurt him. What
could he say?
What was the truth?
Like any man in his position, Mont-
rose tried to postpone the inevitable.
“Look, Marcia,” he said. “I honest-
ly don’t know when I ate last. Would
you wait while I finish dressing, then
have some breakfast with me?”
“I’ve already eaten.”
“Well, watch me, then!” he exclaim-
ed. “And then I’ll explain everything.
Montrose stepped toward her, his
hands outstretched, pleading. Marcia
“All right, Frank,” she sighed.
They walked silently along. Marcia
stared straight ahead, her silence
creating a distance between them. But
Montrose didn’t mind. He had arrived
at a decision. He would tell her every-
thing, making no attempt to explain
it, just give her the whole story. Then,
it would be up to Marcia. At least,
she would give him no balderdash,
like Halsey’s pat theories. Yes, or no
— and he would stand or fall at her
At the next corner, just a few short
steps from the restaurant, it happened.
A commonplace sort of accident. An
old lady, walking blindly against a
traffic light, blundered in the path of an
“Frank!” Marcia screamed.
Montrose tried to move. He could
have reached the old woman in time,
jerked her back to safety. A police-
man blew his whistle, lumbered toward
But Montrose could not move.
Paralysis flowed over him. He panted
with the struggle to move.
The expression on Marcia’s face
changed. Suddenly and terribly and
completely. Then she started for the
street. And now, there wasn’t enough
time. The truck would have smashed
them both, Marcia and the old woman.
The lumbering policeman threw him-
self forward, caught Marcia’s arm. At
the last, incredible moment, the little
old lady saw her danger. She dodged
back to safety.
The paralysis left Montrose.
“Marcia! Marcia!” he screamed.
He ran to her. “Darling, are you all
“Of course she’s all right,” boomed
the cop. “I may have bruised her arm
a bit. But she’s okay, aren’t you,
Marcia and the policeman stared at
“Thank you, officer,” she said at last.
“You saved my life, you know.”
“Now, now.” The big face reddened.
He scowled at Montrose. “You’d better
take a little more care of your girl, I’m
thinking.” He turned away. “Now,
where did the old lady go? That one
needs a lecture 1”
“Marcia,” stammered Montrose. “I
He reached for her hand. Marcia
“You just stood there,” she breathed.
“Too frightened to move.”
Her lip quivered. Then her head
“You’re a coward, Frank. I know
it. I’d never forget it.”
Her hands clasped together, came
apart. Marcia held something out to-
ward him. It was the ring he’d given
Someone laughed. Montrose was
suddenly conscious that others were
watching him. He stared wildly around,
caught sight of the cop. There was a
look of approval on the officer’s face.
Montrose lifted his hands. There
was a clink as the ring fell at his feet.
Montrose let his hands drop to his
As Marcia walked away, her shoul-
ders slumped a little, then began to
tremble. But there was nothing, now,
that Montrose could do.
“Move on,” growled the policemtn.
“Pick up your ring and beat it!”
FA R. FESLER, if he can still be
called that, smirked at Dr. Aloysio.
“Well, what’s so funny?” snapped
“You look so ridiculous in that get-
up,” wheezed Fester. “As an old lady,
brother, you are definitely comic!”
Dr. Aloysio waved a hand and was
“Damn it!” he growled. “It was
such a neat plan. To have him look
on, helpless, while his beloved was
smashed to bits by a truck!"
“Ah, well,” grinned Fester. “Destiny
fights on my side. There are limita-
Aloysio laughed suddenly.
“The plan unfolds, now, dear broth-
er! Get ready to pay me!”
OWAYING with the motion of the
^ train, Montrose lurched up to the
lounge car’s bar.
‘A bottle of rye!” he ordered.
The attendant handed over a bottle.
“You gonna drink all that befo’ we
get to Los Angeles, sah?”
“I’m going to damn well try to,”
growled Montrose. “Keep the soda
and ice coming!”
He sat alone in the far corner of the
car. As the hours passed, the car
gradually emptied itself of passengers.
Montrose drank steadily, oblivious of
his surroundings. He stared down at
the jolting floor, drinking, smoking. . . .
“Beg pahdon, sah, but even this train
has to close up at two o’clock ! ”
Montrose looked up at the white-
“Is it that late!” he exclaimed.
“Suah is. Don’t you think, sah, you
ought to go to bed?”
“Think I’m drunk?”
The porter glanced at the nearly
empty bottle, then looked long and hard
at Montrose. His eyes rolled a little.
“Why — I guess you aint, sah.
Though you suah oughta be!”
“Then get the hell out of here and let
Montrose’s mouth twisted in a sneer.
No control, he muttered wearily. His
body wouldn’t even respond to alcohol
any more. His memory checked back
over the past week. That terrible
week of trying to see Marcia; of finally
giving her up and then, after the
Athletic Club had kicked him out and
CONTRACT FOR A BODY
he had lost two cinch contracts, selling
his business at a loss and leaving town.
During that time he had tried to get
tight. But he never had. He couldn’t
do it now.
Montrose leaned back in his chair.
In careful order, he marshaled the main
events of his life. An ordinary wastrel,
at first, until that night at the hospital.
Then, he’d found some very fine things
• — only to lose them. Events — events
he could not control — events had order-
ed him about!
He sat upright. Dazedly, he con-
templated that fact. He held out his
hands and blinked at them. They
weren’t really his, for he couldn’t al-
ways control them. Montrose looked
down at his feet — the feet that had
refused to enter the church.
Then it was true — he had sold his
body! But to whom? How could he
he ever redeem it? Montrose picked
up his glass and emptied it. Well, he
thought, the old hands will still bring
liquor to the old mouth and the old
mouth will still swallow. He drank
again. Perhaps he did get a little
drunk, for he began to think of Marcia
— even saw her face, shadowy and
vague, float before his own.
And then Montrose became angry.
He had been cheated. The sale had
been made for delivery after death!
And they, whoever they were, had
taken possession before — before the
lease expired. Montrose laughed at
his own thoughts, then grew serious!
It was no joke — he had been cheated.
A crafty gleam grew in his eyes. He
looked down the car’s length to the
vestibule door. That would do very
nicely. He, Frank Montrose, would do
a little cheating on his own account.
He got to his feet, picked up the rye
and drank from the bottle. Setting
the bottle down, he started slowly down
He opened the door of the vestibule
and stood on the steps. The wind
whipped his face. Montrose stood
there for a moment, balanced pre-
cariously. His glance dropped to the
ground, a grey blur under the train’s
speed. It seemed to draw him.
Yes, that was it. Nothing mattered
now, since he had lost Marcia .... and
himself. Clinging to the handrail with
one hand, he swung himself around
between the two cars. This would be
ideal. His body would be mangled be-
yond all recognition — there would be
absolutely nothing left to collect.
Laughing aloud, Montrose let go the
A hand caught his. For a moment,
Montrose dangled, then the hand that
gripped his pulled him back. Mont-
rose banged against the car, his feet
scraped over the steps. One more pull
and he was crouched on his knees in
the vestibule. He heard the outside
door close, then a laugh grated against
“Mr. Montrose! That was cheat-
Montrose looked up. Dr. Aloysio
stood before him. Eyes sparkling be-
hind the black-rimmed glasses, high
forehead gleaming palely in the dark-
“You!” Montrose screamed.
He staggered to his feet.
“Of course. I must protect my in-
terests. If you had — ah, succeeded,
how could I have obtained my pro-
Montrose staggered forward. The
doctor’s figure wavered, blurred, then
npHE PORTER and the conductor
accepted his explanation that he
had fainted, although it was obvious
both thought him lying. As Montrose
lay sleepless in his berth, he heard the
porter come and listen several times
outside the curtains.
But he did not care. He left the
train at Los Angeles, smiling slightly
at the porter’s sigh of relief at his going.
But it was surface amusement only.
Frank Montrose considered himself no
longer of this world. His mind was
fixed on death. For death, the proper
kind of death, would break the bargain,
make him a winner at last.
He checked his bags at the station
and set out on an aimless walk. He
was not surprised to discover he had no
hangover. As he walked, Montrose
passed a small church. His footsteps
walked on. Religion had always meant
little to him and, since he didn’t quite
believe in God, he couldn’t accept the
Had he been more imaginative, he
might have gone insane.
All he did was to stop at an occa-
sional bar and drink a little. Not that
he wanted to get drunk ... even if he
could have gotten drunk. Drinking
was just something to do.
It was at the third bar that the idea
hit him. He grinned slowly as the idea
unfolded in his mind. When the plan
had perfected itself, he chuckled aloud.
He lifted his glass in a silent toast to
his success and drank deeply. For the
first time in days, the rye tasted good
“Fill her up,” he said.
The bartender did so.
“Say,” Montrose said genially, “I’d
like to ask you a question.”
The bartender rubbed the bar with
a dirty towel.
“Shoot,” his voice was bored.
Montrose leaned over the bar.
“Well, he said, “I was just thinking.
Suppose a guy is executed in this state.
What happens to his body?”
The bartender stared.
“Jeez!” he exclaimed. “You’re mor-
Montrose shook his head.
“Not at all,” he grinned. “I’m a
crime writer. Just blew in here. I’m
going to do some free-lance stuff.”
“I dunno,” he said. “Guess the
nearest of kin gets it. If they want it.
Otherwise — yeah, I’m sure of it!”
“What’s that?” Montrose found the
barkeep’s mind a little hard to follow.
“There’s a cemetery at the prison.
I know that, ’cause I was up there once.
As a visitor, of course.”
“Sure,” nodded Montrose.
“Fella I was visitin’ pointed it out
to me. If you get executed and they
aint no relatives, why they bury you
right there in the prison grounds.”
“Fine. Thanks a lot.” Montrose
beamed. “Have one on me!”
“Later, maybe.” The bartender
moved off. “Gotta take care of those
loudmouths at the other end, first.”
T7 VEN the clamor of the omnipresent
juke-box sounded pleasant to
Montrose’s ears. He was at peace with
the world. Carefully, he went over the
plan in his mind. It was foolproof.
There would be unpleasant aspects, of
course. He could not help shuddering
at the final scene. But it was all
compensated for. Yes, it made every-
“Hi, pal,” said a voice at his shoul-
Montrose turned his head. A thin
nondescript sat down beside him.
“What’ll yuh have, pal?”
The newcomer was at that stage of
drunkenness when all the world was
his friend. Montrose started to turn
away, then looked back at the lush. It
might as well be now, he thought
“Why,” Montrose said, “I’d like
“Fine. George, two more ryes.” He
CONTRACT FOR A BODY
leaned toward Montrose. “Tha’s not
his real name. But I always call ’im
“Why not? It saves time.”
“Zactly wha’ I say.” He nodded at
Montrose. “Mighty happy to have
drink with me. Been drinkin’ with
some of the fines’ people’n Lossanglus.
M’name’s Hayes. Jus’ call me Perry.
Tha’s firs’ name.”
“Glad to know you. I’m Frank
“Always say Lassanglus fines’ place
in world with fines’ people,” said Mr.
Hayes. “Knew moment I saw you, you
fines’ of ’em all!”
Mr. Hayes nodded his head with
great emphasis and almost fell off his
“Oh,” said Montrose, “I’m fine
enough, I guess. I’m also pretty
“So?” Hayes’ eyes grew round with
wonder. “Me. I’m dumb.”
“You look dam’ intelligent to me,”
Hayes beamed. They had more rye.
The bartender moved back to his “loud-
mouths” at the other end. Montrose
looked over the bar and saw a short
knife, used for cutting lemons. He
leaned over the bar, snatched up the
knife and stuck it in his coat pocket.
“Whaddye do tha’ for?” asked
“A bet,” grinned Montrose. “Pal
of mine bet me ten bucks I couldn’t
lift it. Say!” He faced the goggling
Hayes. “You’re just the guy I need!
“Look,” said Montrose. “You saw
me lift the knife. How about coming
along and helping me collect the bet.
Then you and I will really paint this
town! What say?”
“Sure. ’S a goodidea.” Hayes fished
for more money.
“Drinks are on me,” said Montrose.
“Nossir!” Hayes became stubborn.
“You’re my gues’. I’mbuyin’.”
Montrose shrugged. It was low,
somehow, to let Hayes pay, in light of
what was going to happen to Hayes.
But he didn’t dare argue with a drunk,
a drunk’s reaction’s are too unpredict-
Hayes paid and they left the bar,
arm in arm.
Montrose walked slowly, pretending
to stagger a little, waiting until they
came to an intersection. There was a
traffic policeman in the middle of the
street. A couple of men were just
stepping off the curb on the other side
of the street. Plenty of witnesses. . . .
Montrose shrugged off Hayes’ arm
and pulled the knife.
“All right, sucker,” he said loudly.
“Hand over that roll you were sporting
in the saloon!”
“Come on!” Montrose grabbed his
shirt. “Gimme the dough or I’ll let you
“Hey, leggo,” mumbled Hayes.
“Don’ play so rough, pal!”
Montrose shook him and raised the
“Leggo!” cried Hayes. He quailed
to sobriety before the awful threat in
Montrose’s eyes. “Help! ” he screamed
TV/T ONTROSE sunk his knife in the
other’s chest, turned and ran
squarely into the arms of the police-
“You’re under arrest!” bellowed the
cop. “I saw you! Plain as day it was
“Yeah!” Montrose dropped the
knife. “I— I killed him.”
He could not look at the small,
“But, officer! You don’t under-
The two men from across the street
stepped briskly up to the policeman.
The officer saw two well-dressed men,
one tall, the other short and portly. To
his practised eye, they meant one thing
Montrose saw in them the things he
still called Dr. Aloysio and Dr. Fesler.
“What do you mean?” rasped the
“We saw it all,” said the tall man.
“My friend, here, and I. This man
was walking along, pleasantly and
amiably, with the — other one. We left
the same bar they did, just a minute
or so after them.”
The street began to rock under
Montrose. The policeman scowled.
“Well I — ”, he grumbled.
The plump man spoke up.
‘The dead man tried to quarrel with
his friend in the bar. Just as they
reached the corner here, he became
angry again. He jerked out a knife
and assaulted the gentleman you’re
holding. We saw him pull the knife
away, but the other chap seemed to
slip and fall right on the knife.”
“But I killed him!” screamed Mont-
rose. “It was murder!”
The tall man clucked.
“Poor chap,” he murmured. “Shock.
You’d be hysterical too, officer, if you’d
just killed a friend.”
The cop was still unconvinced.
“Who the hell are you, anyway?” he
growled. “How do I know this isn’t
some kind of frame-up?”
The two gentlemen presented cards.
As the policeman read the names, his
voice lost its growl and he became very
“Oh!” It seemed he said their names,
but oddly enough, Montrose couldn’t
But Montrose didn’t care, anyway.
There was one more chance. If he ran,
now, the cop would shoot. Even if he
weren’t killed, flight would be a sure
sign of guilt. He stumbled forward.
“Look out!” It was the one Mont-
rose knew as Dr. Aloysio. “The poor
chap is fainting!”
And Montrose was fainting. The
whole, seething scene spun around into
a vast, sneering portrait of Dr. Aloysio.
Then, Dr. Aloysio receded into the
leering blackness. But not before Dr.
Aloysio had leaned forward and whis-
pered in Montrose’s ear,
“Please, Mr. Montrose! Don’t you
realize by now you can’t cheat me!
Your body is mine, you know. ... ”
IT OURS later Montrose stood calm-
ly in the courtroom while the
traffic officer mumbled his testimony
and the other two gave their version
of the tragedy. When it was his turn,
Montrose spoke patiently, as though
repeating a lesson. Word for word,
he gave an account that tallied exactly
with that of the two .... doctors. As
he talked, his only sensation was one
of vast pity for poor Perry Hayes.
The judge called it justifiable homi-
cide and dismissed the case.
Montrose turned to go. Aloysio and
Fesler walked on either side of him.
At the sidewalk, Montrose turned.
“Damn you!” he said, slowly,
viciously. “Why don’t you collect now.
I’m tired of it! I don’t know who you
are — or what happened to me. But
take your body. I’m sick of it!”
Dr. Aloysio shook his head sadly.
“Ah, Mr. Montrose,” he murmured.
“The fault is yours. You don’t know
how to live — at, a leased body. You
don’t know how to take advantage of
His words pounded against Mont-
rose’s mind, even as the two seemed
to fade in the bright sunlight
CONTRACT FOR A BODY
r pHE BARTENDER sliced a lemon,
slowly and methodically. The
joint was as yet but slightly crowded
and he wasn’t very busy.
“Hi!” sounded a familiar voice.
“Let go that lemon and shake hands
Callahan looked up.
“Monty!” he croaked.
His face creased into a smile.
“Monty!” he repeated. “ ‘Tis good
to see ye, lad!”
Callaghan looked Montrose over
carefully . Then he reached below the
bar and took out a dusty bottle of very
old Baltimore rye. It was his seal of
approval on what he saw.
“Me boy,” he said, as he poured, “ye
look very prosperous and I’m glad to
“Prosperous?” Montrose’s eyes grew
bleak. “Well, I’ve got lots of money
and I can do lots of things, but I
wouldn’t exactly say I’d prospered.”
“Talkin’ in riddles, hey? Well,
here’s to ye ! ”
They drank. Callaghan cast a look
up and down the bar, saw nothing that
needed his attention, then leaned for-
ward, elbows on the bar.
“Last time I saw ye was over a year
ago. Ye were on yer uppers, then.”
“I started my comeback that very
night. Got a tip from Jack Rann.
which reminds me.” His voice was
casual. “Is he here?”
“That’s fine. I’ve been looking for
Montrose waved his hand airily.
“Well, to be frank with you, Cal,
I’m going to kill Jack Rann.”
“Somebody should do that.” The
Irishman did a double take. “What
did ye say, Monty?” he whispered.
“I said I was going to kill Rann,”
Callaghan threw up his hands.
“Ye’re drunk agin! Monty, why
don’t you lay off the stuff! And don’t
you start no ruckus in my place!”
Montrose took out an initialed
leather cigarette case. With steady
fingers he chose a smoke, lit it and
flicked the match away. After a deep
drag, he smiled at Callaghan.
‘Cal, old boy,” he drawled, “I am
not drunk and you know it! And I
won’t start anything. I’ll just shoot
him, that’s all!”
Callaghan’s face purpled.
“Did ye ever hear of the electric
chair, boy! Didn’t ye know they exe-
cute people for murder?”
“Not me.” Montrose spoke quite
seriously. “I’ve already tried it and
I can’t be caught. You’ll see.”
Callaghan found himself believing
the other. Unbelief could not stand up
before the easy confidence of Montrose.
The Irishman was afraid, terribly
“Ye’re not crazy,” Callaghan stated.
“Then what have ye done — sold yer
soul to the devil?”
Montrose shook his head.
“No,” he said. “Not my soul, Cal.
/"'ALLAGHAN watched him walk to
where Jack Rann sat. Unfortun-
ately, a customer summoned him, so
Callaghan never did hear what was
It wasn’t very much.
Montrose stared confidently into
Rann’s slate eyes, watched them widen
“ ’Lo, chum,” Rann said. “What
are you doing back here?”
“Just a little visit,” smiled Montrose.
“Came to pay you your commission on
“Yes. Remember when you advised
me to sell my body to a hospital?”
Rann frowned, then he smiled what
was, for him, a wide smile.
“Did that really work?” he chuckled.
He hesitated, taking in Montrose’s ap-
pearance with a quick glance. Then
he said, “Sit down and tell me about it.
You know, I used to wonder just what
put that idea in my mind?”
“Really?” Montrose remained stand-
“Yeah. I didn’t know anything
about it, chum. I was just tryin’ to
get rid of you.”
“It worked, Rann. I got the hundred.
And a lot of other things. Things I
didn’t bargain for. But you deserve
your commission. Even on the other
Montrose took a gun from his pocket
and pointed it at Jack Rann.
Rann’s face turned a dirty gray.
“I never liked you,” Montrose said
calmly. That night I hated you. I
still do. I wouldn’t bother with this
if I thought I ran any risk.”
“Put that gun away, pal. You’ll —
“No. / won’t.”
Rann began to beg in a high, hysteri-
cal voice. He fell to the floor, and
writhed like a worm among the litter of
cigarette butts. Montrose watched with
an almost clinical detachment.
In a fragment of time that seemed
endless, Montrose recapitulated the
situation. He was going to kill Jack
Rann, this groveling creature who had
lost all dignity. He felt a sense of
pleasure, deep inside himself. This was
the way to use a leased body to ad-
vantage. He could go about and de-
stroy all worthless men — with impu-
nity. Ano no man-made punishment
would be his. This body was sacred
to some higher power.
From the corner of his eye, he caught
movement. Callaghan had thrown a
bottle of whiskey at him. Still with an
amused detachment, Montrose marked
the arc of the bottle. It looked like
a true throw, yet it would not hit him,
would not destroy his aim. As they
had allowed him to kill Perry Hayes,
so would they allow him to kill Jack
Rann. And no reprisal.
It was really fun. He chuckled a
little as he pointed the gun down at
Rann. That bottle, flying hard and
true, would be swerved aside by . . .
somehting. Or it would disappear in
mid-flight. How these barflies would
■LTE HELD the gun steady, and began
A -*• to squeeze the trigger. The bottle
reached the top of its flat parabola and
began to drop toward his hand. He
put a little more pressure on the trigger.
The bottle came on. He squeezed hard
on the trigger, a fraction of a second
behind the impact of the bottle.
It crashed into the gun, knocked his
hand to one side. The roar and flash
of the gun deafened and blinded him.
The bullet buried itself in the floor.
Montrose’s jaw went slack. He look-
ed idiotically at the gun.
“What does it mean?” he muttered
to himself. “What does it mean?”
Jack Rann leaped up, with desperate
despair, and wrenched the gun from
Montrose’s limp hand. He pointed it
“You saw him;” he babbled. “Tried
to kill me! I’m protecting myself.
You’re witnesses! He flung a wild
glance at the bartender. “I’m justified
in killing him! You’ll testify, Cal!”
“But you can’t kill me,” Montrose
said, as if to a child. “This body can’t
be hurt. It’s being saved for — some-
thing. I’m not afraid, you see.”
CONTRACT FOR A BODY
It struck him with a blinding impact.
I’m not afraid!
What did it mean? He’d always
been afraid before. A fear that came
from outside himself had sent him flee-
ing from the gloved fists of Dr. Sam
Halsey, had held him paralyzed when
death plunged at Marcia. But now
that fear was gone.
He thought: Why, I’m about to be
killed. I can be killed.
He cried aloud, in wild exultation:
“I can be killed! Oh, thank God, I
can be killed! I’m free, free! Kill me,
Jack This is wonderful!”
Jack Rann dropped his arm. He
looked at Montrose with a kind of
puzzled fear. “You’re crazy, Mont-
rose. I can’t shoot a crazy man.”
‘Then I’ll kill myself!” Montrose
cried. “Oh, God, but I’m happy!”
He turned and ran out the door.
Laughing insanely, he plunged into the
Brakes screamed. Horns cried in
torture. A yellow laundry truck lifted
Montrose on a front fender, sent him
flying through a short arc.
T'XEAD men feel no pain. Through
a fog of it, Montrose told himself
this over and over and over. Dead
men feel no pain.
He hadn’t died, then. Presently he
opened his eyes. He saw brown hair
curling gently against a remembered
face. Grey eyes anxiously fixed on his.
Powder blue sheathed a lovely figure.
“Marcia,” he said softly, without
wonder, stating a simple but beautiful
“You’re going to live, Frank. You’re
going to live, darling. That’s the im-
“Is it?” he asked dully. “They
cheated me again. They took away the
fear, only to fool me. The evil, evil
“You mustn’t talk, dear,” she
soothed. “You’ll be out of your head
for a while, but you’re going to live.”
He looked at her. He thought:
Pain. I hurt. I am hurt. If this body
has been hurt . . .
“What happened to me?” he asked.
“My right foot hurts like hell.”
A nurse came in. “You mustn’t ex-
cite yourself,” she said pleasantly.
“You must gain strength.”
“What’s the matter with my foot?”
he said tensely. “It — feels strange.
What happened to it?’’
“Shh!” the nurse said. “Shhh!”
He tried to sit up, but fell back
gasping with pain. “I insist!” he cried.
Marcia set her jaw. “I’m going to
tell him. I don’t care what the doctor
said. Your foot was — ”
“Miss Powers!” the nurse said sharp-
“Your foot,” Marcia said grimly,
“had to be amputated, Frank, just
above the ankle.”
“I must ask you to leave,” the nurse
“I will not! There’s nearly a quart
of my blood in that body. I’m going
Frank Montrose was suddenly at
peace. A beatific smile overspread his
face, and the two women looked won-
deringly at him.
“I’ve only got one foot,” he said
happily. “Nobody — no THING—
would want me now.”
“I would,” Marcia said stoutly. “I
She straightened it out for him, later.
The news report she had seen. Man
rushes to save alley cat in traffic, not
expected to live. She had caught a
plane, had given two transfusions over
a period of six days. He had almost
“Alley cat?” he repeated. “I
didn’t — ”
“And it escaped,” Marcia burbled.
“This roving reporter saw it wriggle
through the traffic and streak into a
“I’ve only got one foot,” he mur-
mured. “I have never been so happy.”
Marcia said, “And I accused you
once of cowardice. You must have
been just — sick.”
“I can go in that church now,” Mont-
rose said. “Marcia will you — ?”
“If I have to carry you,” she said.
“HpHEN I pronounce you man and
wife,” the justice of the peace
said. “Two dollars.”
Montrose kissed his bride, and she
pulled back to look at him with a frown.
She said nothing until she had wheeled
him out into the lazy afternoon.
“What’s come over you, Frank?”
“I was wondering,” he said, still
abstracted. “If there are — uh, entities
waiting outside the realm of ordinary
existence, ready to pounce, then . . .”
“What are you talking about?” she
demanded. “We’re married, darling!”
“They picked me up,” he went on.
“There was no rhyme or reason, that I
can see. Then they flung me aside,
without warning. What purpose could
they have had? What purpose?”
“Don’t talk like that! You’re giving
me the shivers!”
He grinned up at her. “I’ll never
mention it again. If you’ll wheel me
home, my rickshaw coolie. I’ll show
you what purpose really is. Chop-chop,
“Yes, massa,” she said.
They’re out there, he thought as she
wheeled him home. They’re out there,
waiting. Who will be next? Who
will — ?
It seemed to him that an unseen
hand had touched the breast pocket of
his coat. He felt. He took out a creased
paper. He opened it, remembering.
“I, Frank Montrose, of my own free
will, do hereby assign to the full posses-
sion — ”
It was signed by himself. This was
the “doctor’s” copy of the agreement.
Why had it been returned? He took
the other from his wallet, and tore both
copies to shreds.
“Is that our marriage license?” Mar-
cia asked, chuckling.
“Just an old memorandum,” he said.
And it seemed to him that he heard
soft laughter from — somewhere. From
— some thing. It wasn’t jeering or
ominous. It was merely laughter.
A weight seemed lifted from him.
“Hurry!” he said to Marcia, and
laughed with her.
T HE two o) them sat in impenetrable
darkness. The darkness pulsated
with their laughter.
“I believe l win our wager?” one
“Yes,” the other conceded. “I must
admit, brother, that bodies, in their
limited jashion, are quite amusing.
However, I am convinced that the old
ways are best. This was a pleasant ex-
periment, but I shouldn’t like it as a
“I am enamored of it, myself,” said
the first. “The unsuspected histrionic
talents 1 discovered in myself are fas-
cinating. I am going to indulge in a
variation of this experiment.”
“On whom, brother?”
“Ah, that is a question. Let me see,
shall it be a man or a woman?
“Why not both?”
“A brilliant thought! Brother, per-
haps you have the makings of an
imagination, after all. W ould you care
to join me?”
“To be sure, brother.”
THE MAGYAR KILLER
★ By SANDY MILLER ★
W E AMERICANS take an awful ribbing
from foreigners about the play that
newspapers give to murders and mys-
teries. Most Europeans have the idea that America
is one vast Chicago — a battlegrq^nd of gangsters
and murderers and killers. They have the im-
pression that it is impossible to walk the streets
of this country without being armed with a
machine-gun. But Europe has had more than
its share of the very thing it deplores. Some of
the most famous and inexplicable crimes have
been committed on the Continent. In particular,
Hungary and its capitol city, Budapest, offer
some of the most outre events the world has
Perhaps this is only proper — Hungary, and the
Transylvania mountain district has given us most
of our stories and legends about werewolves and
vampires. One of the most famous of the mys-
teries is that of the Cenchas Foundry.
In nineteen twenty-three, there operated in
Budapest, a rising young industrial establishment,
the Cenchas Foundry. It was a fairly large firm
for the city of that time for it had about forty
employees, one of whom we are particularly con-
Peter Dushanyi was the foreman in charge of
the brand-new gas furnace that the company used
for melting copper and brass. He had been work-
ing for the firm for a relatively short time but
had shown such interest and been so capable that
he had been promoted to his job very rapidly.
He adored the furnace — was almost in love with
it and he tended it with the concern of a man
looking after his first-born. Little was known
of Dushanyi except that his other mad passion
was a love for reading — particularly stories of
the outre and weird type. His room was laden
with such books.
The reason he became known and almost a
cause celebre, was because of a mysterious mur-
der. One Monday morning, September of that
year, the body of Domana Karic, another foundry
worker, was found in front of the copper-melting
furnace. The man’s head had been bashed in
with a heavy bar of some kind. Routine police
action was immediately taken. Karic had no
known enemies, had been a friend of everyone,
and his death was completely inexplicable. The
police examined everyone in the plant carefully
but nothing was found out. Only two peculiari-
ties were noted about the corpse. It was lying
on its face in front of the furnace with its hands
stretched out as if in worship of a god, and in
addition, there was a slight nick or cut in its
throat. To the superstitious Hungarian workmen,
that meant vampirism, but of course, the police
laughed at the thought. Never-the-less, in spite
of all that could be done, his murderer was not
located and the case was closed. There the mat-
ter rested and it would probably never have come
to anyone’s attention had not another incident
in the odd chain of events, occurred.
The foreman, Peter Dushanyi, was found a few
months later, dead in his room, by his own hand.
And he left a note which was a confession of the
murder of Domana Karic. This naturally was a
surprise to everyone, but more surprising was the
explanation, Dushanyi gave for his deed.
He wrote: “I, Peter Dushanyi, Keeper of the
Sacred Flame (evidently, the furnace) am the em-
bodiment of the sacred vampire of Tothe, and
because my god requested sacrifice, I have com-
plied with his command. Domana Karic, was in
himself, nothing, but I chose him because he was
at the furnace while I was there. I killed him and
I am glad to have done it; the furnace needed a
soul to keep it content. I provided it. I am
taking my own life because my purpose on Earth
has been fulfilled.”
That was all there was to the note. When
the story circulated around the plant, workers
refused to approach the furnace believing that
the soul of Karic inhabited it. In fact, the fac-
tory closed shortly thereafter due to the im-
possibility of getting sufficient help. The major
oddity about the whole affair is that the police
never mentioned, at least for public consumption,
that Dushanyi had a slight cut in his throat too.
* * *
• THOMAS ANDREWS •
T homas Andrews, Irish chemist and
physicist, was born on December 19, 1813
at Belfast, Ireland, where his father was a
linen merchant. He studied medicine and the phys-
ical sciences at the University of Glasgow, Edin-
burgh, Dublin and Paris. In 1845, after practicing
as a physician for several years in his native city,
he was appointed vice-president of the newly
established Queen’s college, Belfast, and professor
of chemistry, offices which he held till 1879, when
failing health compelled his retirement. He then
resigned and devoted the rest of his life to research.
He died on Nov. 26, 1885.
The work on which his reputation mainly rests,
and which best displayed his skill and resourceful-
ness in experiment, was concerned with the lique-
faction of gases. He carried out a very complete
enquiry into the laws expressing the relations of
pressure, temperature and volume in carbonic
dioxide, in particular establishing the conceptions
of critical temperature and critical pressure, and
showing that the gas passes from the gaseous to
the liquid state without any breach of continuity.
When investigating the properties of certain
gases, in 1861, he reached the important conclusion
that for each one of them there is a definite degree
of temperature, or absence of it, above which no
amount of pressure will cause it to change into a
liquid. Below that figure a gas will sometimes
partially liquefy, but precisely at it — called the
critical point — it passes at once into the liquid
state. This point differs for each gas. Similarly
it has since been found that for each of them
there is also a definite pressure and temperature
figure at which alone the liquid will become a
solid. In consequence of this discovery, all the
known gases have since been reduced to the liquid
condition, and all but helium to that of a solid.
Andrews also made a special study of ozone, and
to him is due the most of what is known at the
present time of the properties of that substance.
Technically considered, it is an allotropic form of
the elementary gas oxygen; that is, one of the
states which the element can assume without loss
of its elementary character, but which is accom-
panied by marked differences in some of its phys-
ical properties. A number of the elements possess
this capacity, notably sulphur, phosphorus and
carbon, and many chemists hold that allotropism
can occur with any of them, given the proper con-
ditions, inasmuch as it seems to be wholly a
molecular phenomenon. The molecule of normal
oxygen consists of two atoms (0 3 ). When in that
state it is colorless, tasteless and odorless. If re-
duced to a liquid it is transparent, displays a faint
blue tint, and begins to boil and return to the
gaseous form at 181.4° C. In the solid state it
presents a dead white appearance. The molecule
of ozone consists Of three atoms of oxygen (Oa),
possesses a faint bluish color, but also a strong but
not unpleasant odor. At 100° C. it becomes, un-
der the proper pressure, a very deep blue, almost
a black, liquid, which begins to boil at the tem-
perature of 106° C.
/AZONE was first observed in 1785 by the Dutch
student Van Marum, who produced it un-
designedly when passing an electrical current
through some oxygen, and detected its peculiar
odor. He also noticed that the same effect was
always produced in the immediate vicinity of a
frictional electric machine. In both cases he con-
cluded that it was “the smell of electricity.”
In 1801 the same odor was observed by an Eng-
lish chemist named Cruikshank, who was engaged
in decomposing some water by electricity. This
time the phenomenon was ascribed to the acci-
dental presence of a little chlorine which, if in very
small quantities, has a somewhat similar effect on
the olfactory nerves.
Finally, in 1840, the attention of the German
chemist, Schonbein, was drawn to the matter, and
after a prolonged research he announced in 1845
the discovery of a new gas, giving it the name it
now bears. A few years later the French chemist,
Soret, demonstrated its true character as merely
an allotropic form of oxygen.
Ozone is always present in minute quantities in
the atmosphere, and in much larger quantities after
a violent thunderstorm, during which it is pro-
duced, giving the characteristic fresh and clean
effect so noticeable after such a storm has passed
away. It is a more powerful oxidizing agent than
normal oxygen. Under confinement it will reduce
iron, copper, mercury and even silver from the
metalic state to that of the oxide, and will rapidly
destroy rubber and vulcanite. It is a powerful
bleaching agent and germ destroyer. The latter
VIGNETTES OF FAMOUS SCIENTISTS
property is sometimes employed in purifying the
air in hospitals. Whenever and wherever the at-
mosphere produces an exhilarating effect, and im-
presses one as unusually fresh and clean, it will
be found to contain temporarily more than its
average content in ozone. The phenomenon is
nature’s way of purifying the sea of air we live
in when, for any reason, it has become abnormally
impure and unhealthful.
* * # # *
• LEONARD ELLER •
L EONHARD EULER was born at Basel, Switz-
erland, April IS, 1707, and is regarded as one
4 of the greatest of the mathematicians. In
1723, at the age of sixteen, he graduated from the
university of Basel, where he studied geometry un-
der Jean Bernoulli, at that time one of the first
mathematicians in Europe, and became a close
friend of his sons, Daniel and Nicolas. After gradu-
ation he specialized in his favorite studies with pri-
vate instructors, devoting also several years to
theology, medicine, the Oriental languages and such
science as the accumulated knowledge of the day
At the age of twenty, and at the invitation of
the Empress of Russia, Catherine I, Euler joined
his friends in St. Petersburg, and became an asso-
ciate of the Academy of Sciences there, serving first
as a teacher of physics, then of mathematics, and
finally inspector of the geographical department.
The severity of the climate and close application
to study affected his health and in 1735 he lost the
sight of one eye, and about thirty years later be-
came totally blind. In spite of his severe handicap
he was, throughout his life, a persistent, undaunted
and weariless investigator and teacher.
In 1741 Euler went to Berlin at the command
of Frederick the Great, and during the next twen-
ty-five years contributed many memoirs to the
Prussian Academy. During this period he contin-
ued to contribute memoirs to the academy of St.
Petersburg, and in 1766 he obtained, though with
difficulty, permission to return to Russia. Soon
afterwards a cataract formed in his left eye, which
left him almost blind ; with the help of his sons and
of Krafft and Lexell, however, he continued his
work. In the next seven years he sent in 70
memoirs to the Academy, and left in his papers
some 200 more. He remained in St. Petersburg, an
honored member of the faculty of the university
of that city, until he died of apoplexy on Septem-
ber 18, 1783.
Euler’s greatest work was done in pure mathe-
matics and he must be regarded as one of the
founders of the modem science. His writings on
mathematical subjects were remarkably numerous
and are regarded of the highest value, for he pos-
sessed a style of unusual clearness and easy intelli-
gibility. Partial and even complete blindness did
not lessen his mental vigor. When the latter mis-
fortune overtook him, he employed as an amanu-
ensis a young German who was, by trade, a tailor,
and whose mathematical education had never
progressed beyond the fundamentals. To him he
dictated his remarkable “Introduction to Algebra,”
in terms so clear and simple that his assistant, as
the work advanced, became an expert algebraist.
U'ULER treated trigonometry as a branch of
" analysis. He introduced, at the same time as
Thomas Simpson, the abbreviations now used for
the trigonometric functions and made use of the
symbols « and *. He made many investigations
which were new in his time; he discussed the gen-
eral equation of the second degree in three dimen-
sions, and classified the surfaces represented by it ;
he showed that the conic sections were represented
by the general equation of the second degree in
Euler carried his great mathematical faculties
into the domain of physics. He was the first to
deduce the equation of the curve of vibration in
the phenomena of light rays, and to demonstrate
their relation to, and dependence on the properties
of density and elasticity in the medium that car-
ried them — the ether of space. As a corollary from
this, he showed mathematically that in the phe-
nomenon of refraction it was the rays of greater
length — those towards the red end of the spectrum
— that underwent the smallest rate of dispersion
in passing through the prism. In the face of the
statement by the great Newton that a correction
of chromatic aberration was unattainable, he in-
vestigated the subject so deeply and thoroughly,
that he was able at the end to write a prescription
under which Dollond, the distinguished English
optician and instrument maker, was able to con-
struct a combination of lenses of different qualities
of glass, which were practically achromatic.
Although Euler’s most important work was done
in pure mathematics he was a man of wide culture,
interested in many branches of applied mathe-
matics and science. He made important contribu-
tions to astronomy, hydrodynamics and optics. In
versatility of keen mental powers Euler ranks with
Leonardo Da Vinci. Of all the great mathemati-
cians that have arisen to date in the records of the
science, he was preeminent in the faculty and habit
of using that wonderful tool in solving practical
problems in the arts. For example, he developed
a method of determining longitude at sea, which
brought him a share of the £20,000 prize offered
by the British Parliament, the balance going to the
instrument maker, Harrison, who constructed a
chronometer sufficiently accurate to be used for
the same purpose, the one checking the results
indicated by the other.
by Warren Kastel
The race officials had a great
problem. It seemed that the rules
failed to cover a flying carpet . . .
Checks Benson had a smile on his
face as he maneuvered the carpet
in a final burst of speed toward
the finish line — and victory . . .
C SHOCKS Benson paced his living
. room carpet with the fervent
' conviction that all the woes in
the world had been wrapped into a sin-
gle bundle and dumped upon his shoul-
ders. Though not a perceptible bundle,
it weighed him down so heavily that he
groaned with every step.
Tomorrow was the date of the Niles
City Air Race, and Chocks would be
unable to compete. For some human
snake had taken a wrench and with it
played a ghoulish tune upon the motor
of Chock’s plane. And the plane, as it
now lay in the hangar at the airport,
would never fly again.
Chocks groaned. If he could enter
that race, he knew he’d have a good
chance of winning the $5000 first prize.
With that money he could open a little
flying school of his own. And more than
that; he would be able to marry Pat
Andrews, who, according to the general
concensus of opinion, was the prettiest
little waitress that had ever taken an
order at the Niles City Airport lunch-
But his plane was now just a hulk
of girders and cloth from which the
life had flown. And that fact summed
up all his troubles. For, without a
plane he couldn’t enter the race. If he
didn’t enter the race, he wouldn’t win
the prize. If he didn’t win the prize,
he wouldn’t be able to open up a flying
school. And, without a flying school, he
wouldn’t be able to marry Pat An-
Chocks kicked at the living room
carpet, and because he was too pre-
occupied with the troubles, didn’t see
the carpet twitch remonstratingly. For
a second he had imagined that the car-
pet was Bert Stevens, and that he was
treating a certain portion of Steven’s
pants in the manner he had always
longed to treat them. Bert Stevens was
the thorn in the side of Chocks’ life.
Stevens too was an aspirant for the
hand of Pat Andrews, and though he
had nothing in the way of looks and
personality to recommend him, he had
a lot of influence in his pocketbook.
For Bert Stevens was the son of
Horace M. Stevens, and the name of
Horace M. Stevens is synonymous with
oddles of money. Horace M. Stevens
owned a shoe factory up near Carls-
ville, the bank in Niles City, and sev-
eral other things too numerous to men-
tion. Suffice it to say that he had
plenty in the way of cash.
Chocks knew that Bert was entering
the race solely to see that he didn’t
win. $5000 dollars was just a nice little
wad of pin money to Bert Stevens.
Stevens no doubt hoped that the
ignomony of losing would prejudice Pat
Chocks felt the load of woe upon his
shoulders settle deeper. There was
nothing he could do. He couldn’t beg,
borrow, or steal a plane, for every one
for miles around would be entered in
the race. And he knew, moreover, that
he’d never be able to get a plane as
fast as his had been.
Before him Chocks saw stretching a
desolate vista, totally devoid of life
and happiness. He’d never be anything
more than a mere grease monkey tink-
ering with motors at some airport.
Some airport, for after Pat was mar-
ried to Bert Stevens he wouldn’t want
to remain around Niles City where the
iron would constantly be driven deeper
into his soul.
Chocks stopped and slammed a fist
into the palm of his hand. “Oh, Lord,”
he moaned, “if I could only fly in the
race tomorrow. . . If I could only
/'"''HOCKS was standing on the car-
pet when he said that. The carpet
twitched. The edges curled up. It shud-
dered and gave a preliminary heave.
The next thing Chocks knew, he was
being borne aloft toward the ceiling.
His head banged against plaster with
stunning force, and he yelled in con-
“Hey! Hey — what the. . .
The edges of the carpet were press-
ing against the ceiling, and Chocks
was wrapped with all the comfort of a
bug in a rug. But with none of the
bug’s peace of mind.
“Hey! Let me down!”
The carpet floated down from the
ceiling, and came to rest with feather
softness upon the floor. Chocks scram-
bled to his feet, and bounced off the
carpet. He stood on the other side of
the living room, his jaw hanging open.
“N-n-now w-wha-what t-th the
hell?” Chocks muttered.
But the carpet lay quietly on the
floor as good carpets should, and for
a moment Chocks was tempted to dis-
miss his recent escapade as a halluci-
nation. The bump on his head, how-
ever, kept him convinced that it had
all been perfectly real.
Not taking his eyes from the carpet,
Chocks sidled to a chair and sank
down. He stared at the carpet. It was
an old, frayed and tattered carpet, and
whatever design it might have had had
gone with the passing of years and the
rubbing of feet. The sole distinction it
yet possessed was its Arabian ancestry.
Chocks remembered the day his father
brought it home from an auction, and
his mother’s tirade which had followed.
The carpet had lain in the attic neg-
lected for many years, and only re-
cently had Chocks brought it down to
cover the worn spot in the living room
And now, Chocks reflected, the car-
pet had taken a bite out of the hand
which had taken care of it. The carpet
lay on the floor quietly, showing no fur-
ther indication of animation. At last
Chocks got up enough nerve to creep
up and peer at it narrowly. Still it re-
mained lifeless, and to all indications
He pressed the toe of a shoe upon
it gingerly, but the carpet didn’t move
in retaliation. Chocks felt a momen-
tary surge of disgust. Why he had
walked on this very carpet for years,
and now was acting as if it were some
monster ready to spring at him.
Chocks tightened his lips and
stepped upon the carpet. Watching it
closely, he said:
The carpet went up. It rose with an
enthusiasm that threw Chocks to hands
and knees. Midway between floor and
ceiling, it hovered.
Chocks swallowed his heart back to
where it belonged, and turned over so
that he could sit down. He began to
“Giddy-up,” he said. “Easy now — ”
The carpet circled the living room
like a soaring swallow. It dipped and
curved with surety and ease. It rivaled
the grace of any airplane Chocks had
His grin grew to a broad smile. Bert
Stevens was far from having the edge
on him yet.
“Whoa!” Chocks commanded im-
The carpet settled down on the floor
again, and Chocks strode off. The bur-
den of woes had disappeared from his
For tomorrow would find him in the
Niles City air race. . . .
/"'HOCKS arrived at the airport a
^ half hour ahead of time. He carried
the carpet under his arm and he was
Already the stands had begun to fill
and from the looks of things there
would be a capacity crowd. Some of the
planes were already on the line and
mechanics were busily engaged in giv-
ing final tunings to powerful motors.
Chocks sidled along the hangers until
he came to the hanger where his plane
was. Pat Andrews was there, waiting
“Hello, Chocks,” she said, a pitying
look in her eyes. “Your mechanic told
me what happened, and I’m awful
sorry. I know how much this race
meant to you.”
“Sorry?” Chocks asked gaily.
“Why?” the girl cried in astonish-
ment. “How can you race now that
your plane has been wrecked?” Her
voice softened, “I wonder who could
have done such a nasty thing?”
“Doesn’t matter.” Chocks said indif-
ferently, “I’ve got another plane.” He
touched the carpet under his arm.
“You’ve got another plane?” said
Pat in surprise. “Why that’s marvel-
ous! Where did you get it and where’s
“Got it from the parlor, and it’s
right here.” Chocks grinned at her.
“Here? Parlor?” A frown crept over
her pretty face. “But I don’t under-
Chocks held the carpet in front of
him. “This is my plane,” he said. “And
it’s going to win the race for me this
The girl’s mouth dropped ever so
slightly. The frown on her forehead in-
creased and she looked at Chocks with
the wary regard one gives to an in-
mate of the state asylums.
“No, I’m not crazy, Pat — I’m dead
serious. This innocent little carpet act-
ually can fly.”
Pat didn’t say anything. She couldn’t
find anything to say. Her eyes, how-
ever, plainly said that the sudden loss
of Chocks’ chance to take part in the
air race had unbalanced him.
Just then Bert Stevens rounded the
corner of Chocks’ hanger. He was grin-
“Hi folks!” the grin on his face
widened. “Sorry to hear about your
plane, Chocks. Too bad, too bad!”
Chocks lost a little of his carefree
manner. He was thinking just then that
if anyone had ruined his motor it was
“Yeah,” he said drily, “Too bad,
isn’t it? It’s pretty plain that the rat
who did it didn’t want me to win. He
must have been pretty yellow to do a
thing like that.” He let the words sink
in, and they did. Stevens” face turned
just the slightest tinge red. Then
Chocks added: “But it won’t do the
skunk any good. I’ve got another plane
and it’s a damned sight faster than my
“You’ve got another plane? .
Stevens frowned bewilderedly.
“Yep.” Chocks drawled.
“But — but where’s it at?” Stevens
echoed puzzedly. “It’s not on the start-
“It will be.” said Chocks, and he
noticed that Pat was looking at Stevens
with raised eyebrows. It didn’t take
long for him to catch on. Now they
both thought he was cracked. Stevens
laughed and clapped Chocks on the
“Well, I’ll be lookin’ for you on the
line!” he said, his voice edged with
sarcasm, and he walked off laughing.
Chocks looked at Pat. Pat looked
at Chocks. Then she shook her head
and grasped his arm.
“Don’t take it so hard, Chocks,”
she said, you musn’t let this get you
down. There’ll be other races.”
“Yeah, after I win this one,” Chocks
The girl shrugged hopelessly and
walked away. Then Chocks grinned
after her and strode towards the
Judges’ stand to check in . . .
r "p HERE were fourteen sleek ships
-*• on the starting line. They stood in
an even line along the tarmac. But
there was a noticeably empty space in
their ranks. The space where Chock’s
plane should have been.
The race was scheduled to start in
five minutes when Chocks made his
way towards the lineup. A murmuring
arose from the crowd when they saw
him. Word had spread that he wouldn’t
be able to race. But there he was, strid-
ing across the Field with a bundle
under his arm. The puzzled murmuring
of the crowd grew louder.
Reaching his position Chocks dropped
the bundle to the ground and swiftly
unrolled it. The crowd gasped as they
saw it was a carpet. Chocks sat down
and peeled off his coat.
Chocks knew he made a ludicrous
figure sitting in the middle of a line of
airplanes, upon nothing more substan-
tial than a mass of woven wool. But he
was not daunted. Hadn’t they laughed
at the Wright Brothers?
Chocks glanced around him. Pilots
were smirking in their planes and point-
ing at him in derision. Off to one side
there was a heated discussion going on
in the Judges’ booth. Chocks knew who
they were discussing. Suddenly one of
them climbed down the platform and
made his way towards the line. He was
a pompous little man boasting the rem-
nants of what had once been a prolific
head of hair. It was Horace M. Stevens,
Bert Stevens’ father. He waddled im-
portantly up to Chocks.
“What’s the meaning of this, Ben-
son?” he demanded. “Are you trying to
make a farce out of this race!”
Chocks sighed. “Look, Stevens,” he
said, managing to keep his voice even,
“I’ve paid my entry fee, been granted
a position in the lineup, and am in my
spot on time. I don’t think there’s any-
thing else I’m supposed to do?”
“But good heavens, man, this is an
airplane race — not an Arabian festival.
You’re not only making yourself ridi-
culous but the whole commission as
“To hell with the commission,”
Chocks said hotly. Get back to your
own side of the tracks. If I want to
make a fool of myself, that’s my
Horace Stevens glared at Chocks
then shrugged and turned to waddle
back to the Judging stand.
A hush settled over the grandstand
as the starter signalled contact. There
was a thundering roar as fourteen pow-
erful motors burst into life. Wind
screamed from the backwash and flat-
tened the grass behind them. The spec-
tators tensed. The moment was at
There was an amused but puzzled
smile on every face as they looked at
the insignificant figure of Chocks, sit-
ting astride a worn little carpet in the
center of the field. The starter raised
his flag and counted the seconds on
The hum of the motors was a steady
roar. Then the flag flashed down!
Throttles burst into life and the
planes began to move forward. Slowly
at first, and then with gathering speed.
But something suddenly shot past them.
The carpet rose with the ease of a
feather and shot ahead like a bullet
gone berserk. It was a half mile in the
heavens before a single plane had left
the ground. Chocks chuckled. Chocks
laughed. Chocks roared. He gripped
the sides of the tattered rug and yelled
in wild abandonment. Then he glanced
The rest of the planes had taken the
air now and were circling for altitude.
Chocks could see the amazed faces of
their pilots. In particular Chocks noted
the incredulous look upon the face of
Bert Stevens. He had the look of a
baby having gained possession of a
large sucker was suddenly deprived of
it. Then, with a savagery, the race was
From the moment it started, until the
moment it stopped the end was ap-
parent. Chocks flew like a bat out of
hell in any and all directions at the
same time. He flew with a recklessness
that brought gasps to the throats of the
crowds below. He looped and turned,
and dove and twisted. He cut in and
out of the other ships like a wasp on a
spree. He circled above them and came
flashing down with the speed of a
comet. He missed propellors by inches
and came closer to the whirling props
at every turn. He would spurt ahead
with a speed that made the other ships
look like crawling insects. Then he
would turn and race back a mile to
repeat the performance. His hair flew
wildly about him in disarray. His
clothes were flattened against his body
in the savage pull of the wind. He clung
to the carpet with the tenacity of a
Then, when there was scarcely a mile
to go, he suddenly shot forward and
dove towards the finish line. He landed
as lightly as a feather and rose to watch
the other ships come in. Bert Stevens
was the first to land by a good lap
ahead of the others. But Chocks had
found time to light a cigarette and was
walking toward the Judges’ stand to
collect the first prize before Stevens’
ship had even touched the ground.
“T PROTEST!” thundered Bert
Stevens. “That race wasn’t fair!
This was supposed to be an airplane
race — there was no provision made for
Bedlam ensued. There was a huge
crowd around the Judges’ stand watch-
ing the heated argument that was in
“I entered this race fairly and was
accepted!” Chocks retorted. “And be-
sides there are no provisions in the
rules which prohibit a flying carpet!
They don’t even specify that entrants
must see an airplane — but just fly!”
“Why should they?” Stevens de-
manded. “What else besides an airplane
would be in an air race?”
“I guess I showed you that.” Chocks
answered drily. “And since I won I de-
mand my prize!”
“But you didn’t win fairly!” Stev-
ens shouted. Then a crafty gleam en-
tered his eyes. “I’ll race you alone in
planes, then we’ll see who’ll come in
Chocks saw the strategy behind
Stevens’ words. He know as well as
did Stevens that he would have no
chance of winning in such a race. Stev-
ens’ plane had proved its superiority
over the others. It was a trap that
Chocks knew he must avoid.
The Judges went into consultation.
Horace M. Stevens was conspicuous in
the debate. His pudgy arms waved con-
tinually. And he seemed to be winning
his point. Suddenly he approached the
loudspeaker. The crowd silenced ex-
“The results of the race, because of
their, er — unusual circumstances, have
given rise to the question of validity.”
He paused to mop his forehead. He
was having a hard time finding words.
Then: “We have decided that the only
way to settle this matter is to have the
two leading contestants engage in a
separate race to decide the winner.”
The crowd cheered. They were looking
for more thrills. Horace M. Stevens
waved his arms.
“Chocks Benson will be given his
choice of the remaining planes, and.
. . He didn’t get any further. Chocks
suddenly shoved him aside and ad-
dressed the crowd.
“I refuse to fly any plane with Bert
Stevens! He knows that his ship is
faster than any other on the field — he
knows he can beat me without even
trying that way. I won the race today
fairly. If any other race is to be run it
should be on an equal basis. Since the
protest has been entered against my
carpet and not me — then we’ll let the
carpet be the deciding factor!”
The crowd thundered its approval.
This was just the thing crowds like to
have happen. Chocks roared into the
“We’ll cut the carpet in half and each
of us will take a piece. Then we’ll run
the race over, and the winner will get
A blast of approval greeted Chocks’
Bert Stevens turned helplessly to his
father. Horace M. Stevens turned to
They argued some more.
But the crowd kept up its thunder.
They knew what they wanted now, and
they wouldn’t give in. The Judges
looked at the crowd and look at Horace
M. Stevens. They decided that it was
one against a couple thousand enthu-
siastic spectators, and the spectators
were the stronger. The Judges gave in.
Chocks carried the carpet down to
the field and someone produced a pair
of scissors. He cut the rug in two. Then
he arose and gave Bert Stevens one of
Stevens was pale as he took the piece
of carpet. There was a bewildered look
upon his face.
“H-how does the thing work?” he
Chicks’ grin widened. “When you
want to go up, say up. When you want
to go down, say down. The carpet will
go where you tell it to. That’s all there
is to it.”
Stevens, paling, mumbled something
like: “ — up — down — up — ”
The crowd was getting restless as
Chocks placed his portion of carpet
on the tarmac. Stevens, in a daze, fol-
Chocks sat down and calmly folded
his arms. Beside him Bert Stevens was
clutching his portion with a desperate
grip. Stevens’ face was turning a deli-
ttORACE T. STEVENS was still
* remonstrating with the Judges,
but they, since they included the Mayor
of Niles City, a would-be mayor of
Niles City, and the Sheriff and a
would-be sheriff of Niles City, remained
adamant. Election time was near, and
they knew that if their popularity at
the polls was to be assured, they’d have
to please the people.
“Start the race ! ” the crowd was yell-
“On with the race!”
The Judges nodded and beamed and
sat back in their seats. Horace M.
Stevens shrunk within his fat, and
threw a look of despair at Bert.
The starter’s gun was raised in the
air. His eyes were glued to his stop
The rugs leaped into the air, and
Stevens in spite of his frenzieed clutch
upon the edges, was almost torn off as
the wind gripped at him. He yelped in
The crowd, demanding action, yelled
in derision. Horace M. Stevens moaned.
Chocks circled leisurely while Bert
Stevens learned to manage his portion
of carpet. At last the other caught the
knack, and Chocks, deciding that from
now on Stevens was on his own, took
off in earnest.
He bent low on the carpet, the “wind
whistling past his ears. The ground be-
low him was a dim brown blur. He
neared the first pylon, and even as the
sight of it registered on his eyes, he
was around and past it. The carpet
seemed to know everything that was
supposed to be done.
As he rounded the next pylon,
Chocks looked back to see how Bert
Stevens was coming on. Stevens had
himself wrapped around his piece of
carpet so that little of anything of it
could be seen. His eyes were closed
and his teeth were clicking like cas-
Chocks hovered a moment over the
grandstand and waved gaily to the yell-
ing, shrieking throngs. Then he lined
out for the home pylon, circled it, and
came swooping down to earth.
It was some minutes before Bert
Stevens landed. When he did, he
crawled slowly from his rug, and quiet-
ly consigned his recent lunch to the
The spectators swept all around
Chocks, cheering and yelling. The
judges wormed their way importantly
through the crowd, beaming benignant-
ly. When a space had been cleared
about Chocks, and when the yelling had
died down sufficiently to enable them to
be heard. The Mayor began a nice
speech, and when it was finished, he
proudly presented Chocks with the
$5000 prize. Horace M. Stevens was
to have presented the prize, but had
changed his mind.
Chicks stammered out his thanks and
turned to look for Pat. She was at the
outer fringes of the crowd, and the ex-
pression on her face made Chocks go
warm inside. He told himself that she
would be the first student at his new
flying school — after they were finally
“Wait! Wait, I protest!” Bert Stev-
ens had swayed to his feet and was
staggering toward Chocks and the
Suddenly Chocks’ eyes narrowed. As
Bert Stevens had stood up, a small
bright object had fallen from his dis-
arranged clothing. Chocks recognized
it instantly for a small, very expensive
part of his wrecked plane!
A river of wrath surged through him.
So it was Bert Stevens who had de-
stroyed his plane after all! And Stev-
ens had shown himself to be mercenary
enough to steel that expensive metal
Chocks leaped forward and scooped
the metal object from the ground.
Holding it up for all to see, he roared:
“You all know that someone
wrecked my plane to prevent me from
taking part in the race. See this gad-
get? It came from my plane, and the
other mechanics can prove it. It came
from Bert Stevens’ pocket!”
The crowd eyed Bert Stevens and
muttered ominously. The Sheriff ceased
to be a judge and stepped forward to
uphold the dignity of his office. He did
it with gusto, considering all the votes
he would get by so doing.
“Bert Stevens, I arrest you in the
name of the law! You are charged
with malicious property damage. Better
come with me, and quietly.”
“Go to hell!” Bert Stevens snarled.
“My father — ”
He was standing on Chocks’ portion
of carpet when he said that. He never
completed the rest. For suddenly it
leaped up into the sky. In a moment
Bert Stevens and the rug were vanish-
The carpet was being obliging . . .
This is an SOS. Is there anybody in Waukegan,
Illinois, or vicinity, who is interested enough in
stf to want to correspond with me? I'm being
assailed on all sides by friends (such as they are)
for filling my mind with “that trash”, and it’s
getting kind of lonesome all by myself.
Although I’m a novice in the field, I’ll do my
best to keep up an interesting correspondence.
I am also interested in the Shaver Mystery. If
I joined and sent in my dollar subscription now
could I get the back issues of the club magazine?
Hope to hear from somebody soon.
821 Massena Ave.,
Come on, you Waukegan fans — get on the ball!
As as to the Shaver Mystery Club and its slick
little club magazine, we’d suggest that you send
your subscription to the Club at 2414 Lawrence
Avenue, Chicago. We’re sure that Chet Geier
will be glad to have you join, and in all likeli-
hood he will still have a few back issues to bring
you up to date on the club’s affairs. . . ED.
LEE FRANCIS IS TOPS
Here I am again, and the only way you are
going to get away from me is to stop putting such
dog-gone good stories in FA. Then, and only then,
will I stop reading FA. AMAZING is a close
second, but can’t top or tie FA with me.
Here’s how I rate the stories in the April issue
— a swell issue.
1. “Flight Into Fog” by Lee Francis. This is
only the third story by Lee Francis that I have
read, but I want to say that she — or — he whoever
Lee may be, is super with me!
2. “Lair of the Grimalkin.”
3. “Coffin of Life and Death.”
4. “The Wandering Swordsmen.”
5. “The Curse of Ra.”
6. “The Cat-Snake.”
7. “Who Sups With the Devil.”
The feature article on herbs was too short.
There was much more that could have been cov-
ered — like using the thorn weed as a cure for
itch, and many others. The features are always
interesting, however. I’ll see you after I finish
reading the next issue of FA.
Zeda P. Mishler,
423 Woodland Ave.,
Lee Francis is a “ he ”, Zeda. And we’re right ivith
you in saying that we too think he is tops, super,
and in every way one fine writer. Along these
lines, keep your eye on FA for a new novel com-
ing up by Lee Francis. It’s a dilly, and you won’t
want to miss it. As to the features, you, they are
somewhat short, but to cover subjects like that in
full detail all at once would be something of a
problem. So you’ll probably be seeing another
article on herbs in the future, covering points
that were untouched in the first article. Anyway,
we’re glad you find the features interesting read-
ing. Some of our readers like them almost as
well as the stories. And we’ll be waiting for your
next letter ED.
OUR BEST NOVEL YET
I have just finished reading Lawrence Chand-
ler’s “Forgotten Worlds” in the May FA. I want
to say it is without a doubt the best novel you
have yet published in either of your two fine
books, AS or FA. I personally rate it over the
works of Howard Browne — his “Warrior of the
Dawn”, and Nelson Bond’s “Sons of the Deluge.”
As you can see, I’m a very rabid reader of your
two magazines. I have issues dating back to 1939.
. . . But now I have a bone to pick.
How can you rate the works of Richard S.
Shaver with writers like Nelson Bond, Howard
Browne, Don Wilcox, Stanley G. Weinbaura,
Leroy Yerxa, Eando Binder, Frank Patton, and
Edgar Rice Burroughs? I can’t stand his stories.
No doubt all the Shaver fans will demand my
blood, and perhaps you will too, but this is my
opinion, and I have the right to express it.
This is my first letter to any magazine, but
maybe I’ll have beginner’s luck in having it
printed. Anyway, I hope so.
2237 Park Place,
Wichita 4, Kansas.
W e’ re very glad you liked Lawrence Chandler’s
novel so well, Harvey. It’s gratifying to know
that we can pick new writers who will ring the
bell like Chandler, with you readers. Unfortu-
nately we didn’t have room this issue for other
letters on the May issue, but we’ll try and make
up for that next issue. As for Shaver, well, all
we can say is that Dick is very popular with a
lot of our readers. You must admit one thing
however, that Shaver has really stirred up a con-
troversy both pro and con ED.
PREACHING TO FISH
★ By FRANCES YERXA *
T HE Kwakiuti Indians of British Columbia
think that when a salmon is killed its soul
returns to the salmon country. So they
are careful to throw the bones and waste material
back into the sea where the soul can go back
into them at the resurrection of the salmon. If
they burned the bones the soul would be lost
and it would be impossible for the salmon to
arise from the dead. The Ottawa Indians of
Canada believe that souls of dead fish pass into
other bodies of fish, so they never burn fish
bones for fear of offending the souls of fish and
they would not come into their nets. The Hurons
don’t throw fish bones in the fire because the
souls of the fish would warn other fish not to
be caught because their bones would be burned.
They also employ men to preach to the fish,
persuading them to come and be caught. A good
preacher was much in demand for they thought
that he had great power in drawing the fish
to their nets. In the Huron fishing village there
was an especially eloquent preacher. Every night
after the evening meal, he had all the people
sitting silently in their places while he preached
to the fish. His main text was that the Hurons
would never burn fish bones. He invited and
pleaded with the fish to come and be caught,
and to fear nothing because they would be
serving their friends who honored them and
did not burn their bones. In German New
Guinea an enchanter is employed to lure the
fish to their doom. He stands in a canoe on
the beach with a decorated fish basket, and
orders the fish to come trom all parts of the
sea. When the Aino have killed a sword fish,
they thank the fish for allowing them to catch
him and invite him to come again.
Among the Nootka Indians of British Columbia,
it was a rule that anyone that had eaten bear’s
flesh must not eat fish for at least two months.
They believed that fish of all kinds, even though
a great distance away would come to know of it,
and be so offended that they would not allow
themselves to be caught by any of the inhabi-
tants. When the herring disappeared from the
sea around Heligoland in 1530, the blame was
placed on two boys who had whipped two
freshly caught herring and then flung them back
into the sea. Scotch fishermen believe that if
blood is spilled into the sea as a result of a
quarrel, the herring will leave that port and
not return again that season. West Highland
fishermen believe that every shoal of herring
has its leader which it follows wherever he goes.
This leader is bigger than the other fish, and
if a fisherman happens to catch it, he very care-
fully puts him back into the sea. It would be
considered treason to destroy royal fish.
The natives of the Duke of York Island each
year decorate a canoe with flowers and ferns, fill
it with shell money, and set it adrift to compensate
the fish for their brothers who have been caught
and eaten. When the Tarahumares of Mexico are
going to poison the waters of a river in order to
stupify the fish so they can be caught, they first
make offerings to the master of the fish by way of
payment for the fish of which they are about to re-
lieve him. The offering consist of axes, knives, beads,
and blankets which are hung on a horizontal bar in
the middle of the river. The master of the fish,
PREACHING TO THE FISH
however, does not have long to enjoy these offer-
ings, for the next morning the owners of articles
reclaim them and put them back into use. It is
always necessary to treat the first fish caught with
much consideration in order to conciliate the rest
of the fish, whose conduct may be supposed to be
influenced by the reception given to those of their
kind which were the first to be taken. So the
Maoris always put back into the sea, the first fish
caught with a prayer that it may tempt other fish
to come and be caught.
* * *
THE OLYMPIAN MUSES
★ By CHARLES RECOLR *
T HE Greeks have made many contributions
to our civilization. The offerings they have
given our culture are immeasurable, and
among the things the ancient Greeks evolved,
nothing is more beautiful than their system of
mythology. All the peoples of the world have
given us mythological stories and beliefs, but
none have stressed the aspect of beauty in them
as have the ancient Greeks. The ideal of Grecian
life was beauty, pure unadulterated beauty that
would stir man to his very core. This intense love
of beauty then is reflected in the Grecian stories
of their gods.
A particularly effective series of stories con-
cern the Muses. The Muses were the nine daugh-
ters of Zeus and Mnemosyne. They were beauti-
ful and talented and the world of the arts and
sciences was their scope. Everyone honored them
and wherever feasts or celebrations were held,
offerings and libations were made to the Muses.
Their function was to inspire Man with the ideas
that produced his noblest thoughts in art and sci-
ence, poetry and literature. Even today we say
“that we have been inspired by the Muse” when
we have done something outstanding in these
Calliope, the most highly regarded of the Muses,
reigned over song and poetry. She appears as a
beauty with a pencil and a slate. Clio, the next,
was the Muse of history, and she carried a roll
of parchment on which were inscribed the events
of the known world. Melpomene, was the Muse
of Tragedy, and she wears a tragic mask. Thalia,
the comedienne, carries a comic mask. Polyhym-
nia, of the sacred hymns, wears a wreath of laurel.
Terpsichore, whom we all know as the goddess of
the dance, appears playing a seven-stringed lyre.
Urania, the goddess of astronomy, carries a celes-
tial sphere. Euterpe, goddess of harmony, bears
always a flute. Erato, the Muse of love, is always
depicted wearing a laurel and playing a lyre.
These then were the representations of the Muses.
While they were worshipped indiscriminately
by both gods and mortals alike, and while their
origin was basically in beauty, as in all legends,
there runs through their activities the inevitable
streak of cruelty. Perhaps this was in contrast.
Regardlessly, they did some unpleasant things at
For example, on earth, there was a Thracian
bard of great renown, named Thamyris. Being an
accomplished artisan, he foolishly challenged the
Muses to a contest of skill. The Muses however
were vain beyond all reason, of their abilities and
that a mere human should dare to compare him-
self with them was intolerable! They acceded to
the trial, and as would be expected, they van-
quished him. Not content with this, they caused
his blindness and to top things off they deprived
him of his ability to sing! There was vengeance
with a capital Vee.
The daughters of King Pierus, mere mortal crea-
tures also invited the Muses to a contest. On
Mount Helicon, these bold creatures fought their
battle of beauty with the nine Muses. But the
gods looked on enraged. While these mortals
sang, the skies darkened and lightning filled the
sky. When the Muses entered their offering,
however, the whole of Nature became overjoyed
and even the Mount writhed with ecstasy. The
daughters of Pierus were not to get off easily for
their audacity. The Muses had them changed into
singing birds as a punishment. The Sirens, those
women whose lower extremities were formed like
birds of the sea, and who had wings, were also
equipped with magnificent voices with which
they lured sailors to their deaths on the rocks.
In fact they were the personification of the rocks
along the seashore. With this ability, they, too,
tried to challenge the Muses. They made an
error. Not only were they soundly trounced, but
they were stripped of the feathers which adorned
From these various tales it can be seen that
though the Greeks adorned their legendary gods
and goddesses with great beauty and with great
ability, and though they believed that beauty was
an end in itself, they still could not resist the in-
jection of little cruelties here and there.
Nevertheless we can forgive them for that.
Their contributions to beauty far outweigh those
to cruelty. It is impossible for a lover of nature
to walk in the woods, listening to the sighing of
the wind through the trees or the rustling of a
brook without thinking — perhaps against his bet-
ter judgment — that these are really the voices of
the ancient Grecian gods and that the forests are
haunted with their long-gone presence.
* By JUNE LURIE ★
C LAYTON L. LENNINGS was an amateur
anthropologist and as such his word never
carried much weight with the scientific
world, but his findings, reported in the Peruvian
Journal and in a number of American newspapers,
make interesting speculation. Lennings, who is
still quite active in the field, is at present back in
South America with the same firm that, he worked
for before the war. It is possible that he may have
something more to report.
Lennings originally went to Peru as the repre-
sentative of an American manufacturing firm in
1938. He stated that the work was not arduous
and left him free for pursuing his favorite hobby,
a more than somewhat dabbling in anthropology.
He visited a number of libraries and became inter-
ested in a little known tribe of head-hunting
Indians, the Gyotos. It was a trip to the interior
of Peru, during which he naturally left Lima,
that gave him his opportunity to do some real
His trip brought him to a small but productive
copper mine located in the depths of the Peruvian
jungle. His job was to attempt to convince the
manager of the mine to persuade his employers
to buy some floatation mining equipment to
further increase the productivity of their mine.
One evening Lennings, left the camp, and
armed with a rifle and a flashlight, he decided
to make a nocturnal jungle trip in the near
vicinity at least, with the hope of perhaps con-
tacting some of the odd Indian tribes the area
was rumored to possess. The mining camp was
easy to locate being marked by a hundred foot
antenna with a light on top of it. Lennings had
no fear of getting lost. He had gotten no farther
than ten or twelve miles from the camp, when
he stumbled into a small clearing about three
hundred feet across. He crept up to it, noting
that it was occupied and appeared to be some
crude sort of an Indian village. There was a
central fire about which not more than thirty or
forty Indians were gathered, and some sort of
activity was being engaged in by a few near the
fire. The remaining Indians seemed to be more
spectators or worshippers than anything else.
Lennings got near enough to the group to see
what was going on.
A stake had been set up near the fire and to it
w'as tied a lovely, nude young Indian girl. She
was firmly bound and her mouth w'as thoroughly
gagged so that she could make no outcry. A
savagely painted priest or witch-doctor of sorts,
was thrusting thorns into the skin all over her
body and her writhings apparently pleased the
Indians for they were before the tableau def-
initely like worshippers. Later, Lennings admitted
how foolish he had been even thinking of doing
anything about rescuing her, but he was a white
man trained in the morals of western civilization
and he had to. Rifle in hand, he strode right
into the middle of the group, and in the few words
of Indian dialect that he knew he told them to
break it up and stop it.
For a moment they were all too startled to do
anything, but they had had contact with white
men before and evidently knew what a rifle was
like for they did not rush him. Instead the
priest, or chief, or whatever he was, barked some
rapid words to the angry Indians who by now
had crept up close to Lennings. They did not
attack him, and for his part he did no more than
menace them with the rifle. Without much palaver,
the chief or priest reached over to the girl, now
half-fainting, cut her bonds, removed her gag
and let her stagger out of the circle. Then he
simply made it understood that Lenning was to
go. Lennings was helpless as far as doing anything
else went. He could not take the girl with him
and yet he knew that she was certainly doomed if
she remained. He decided to leave. With mutter-
ings and imprecations the Indians opened a path
for him and Lennings went back to camp. At
first the superintendent would hardly believe his
story but with a handful of armed men they went
back to the spot where Lenning had witnessed
what he thought of as “the potential sacrifice.”
The remains of the camp were there but all traces
of the Indians had vanished. Even the stake had
been taken down, indicating that the Indians no
doubt knew that they were doing something that
was ordinarily frowned on in the best white
Lennings reported the incident to authorities in
Lima, Peru, who told him that, while sacrifice
was uncommon, weird rites were not, and that as
yet things were still in too primitive a state to
permit the authorities to properly monitor jungle
tribes. Trivial as the event was in retrospect,
Lennings says, it left him with the feeling that
barbaric rites are probably practiced to a greater
degree today than anyone has any idea of. Other
professional explorers have confirmed this. That
death was intended for the girl, Lennings never
doubted — it was just the method that shocked
★ By CAL WEBB *
A HONEYBEE hive is a bustling commun-
ity where their food is stored. There are
the workers, drones, and the queen bee.
During midsummer an average hive may house
2,000 drones, 50,000 workers, and one queen. A
special food called “royal jelly” is fed the queen
bee, and the more they feed her, the more eggs
she lays. A special crew of workers feed the queen
and help her around from one cell to another to
lay the eggs. In a single day she may lay 3,000
eggs, each in a separate cell. In spite of all the
help she has quite a hard day. Some of the work-
ers watch over the larvae which hatches from the
eggs. It has to be fed before it can turn into
The cells vary in size. The smaller are for larvae
that will hatch into workers. The workers are
female, but they seldom lay eggs. If they should,
the eggs would produce drones. The larger cells
are made for the larvae that will turn into prin-
cesses or queens. If the queen should die, there
must be another one to take her place. New
queens are also needed to lead off new swarms
when the hive becomes over-crowded. Royal jelly
is fed to the larvae that is to become queens.
Most of the workers are out gathering honey.
They take pollen as well as nectar from the blos-
soms, being sure that they visit only one kind of
blossom in a single trip. As the bees move about
from one blossom to another, they lose a bit of
pollen from their wings on other blossoms. This
pollenization is needed so that the plants can pro-
duce seeds that will grow the next season. The
workers work so hard that they only live about
six weeks during the busy season. Workers born
in the fall live through the winter. Drones live
about four months and do nothing. Queens live
two or three years, although some have been
known to live eight years.
There can be only one queen living peacefully
in a hive. When new queens are born during the
summer, the old queen may take some of the
workers and leave the hive for a new home.
When there are several princesses, they fight it out
to see who becomes queen. It is a fight to death.
Sometimes the old queen is unwilling to give up
her home and is successful in holding her position
in the hive. In this case the new queens take
part of the workers and seek new homes. If they
refuse to leave, the mother queen may kill them.
She is lacking in motherly love for she is capable
of stinging her own children to death.
When honeybees swarm and leave their old
hive, they must make a new home. If they don’t
go into a prepared hive, they will go into a hol-
low limb, or perhaps, down an old chimney.
First they have to make the honey comb from
the wax. The wax comes from the bees. After
they have loaded up on honey, they hang from
the roof of the hive in a long string. One bee
holds on to the hind legs of the one above it. A
second string is started from another part of the
roof of the hive, and the bee at the bottom of
that string clings to the lower bee on the first
string. They hang in this V shape for a couple
days. Very slowly, wax oozes from their abdo-
mens, and they scape it all up and chew it to make
it ready to build honeycomb. It takes a lot of bees
to build the comb. Some bring in the wax, others
have to shape it into six-sided cells. They begin
building from the top, and add more and more
cells underneath. Even the most skilled men
could not do a neater job.
♦ * *
WYOMING'S SHIP OF DEATH
T HREE times a phantom vessel from the
misty void between life and death has ap-
peared on the Platte River in Wyoming
bearing its message of doom. The strangest mys-
tery of the cattle country, the story of the spec-
tral ship, is related in official reports of the Bureau
of Psychological Research at Cheyenne, but the
weird accounts of its uncanny appearances do not
reveal from what dim port beyond the veil it car-
ries its cargo of dread.
It was in 1862 that the apparition first ap-
peared, according to bureau records. Leon Web-
ber, a government Indian scout and trail blazer,
had selected a site near the river and was engaged
in building a log cabin. The location in question
has been determined as six miles southeast of the
present site of the Guernsey Dam, and near the
present station of Whalan on the C. B. & Q. Rail-
Mr. Webber’s account follows: “Late in the
afternoon of the twelfth of September I was get-
ting ready to return to my summer camp some
two miles down the river, when, glancing up the
stream, I noticed what appeared to be a gigantic
ball of fog riding on the surface of the water, near
the middle of the stream. It was a strange sight
and, in my excitement, I ran dow r n nearer the
bank in order to get a better view of whatever
it might be. My dog came and sat down on the
ground behind me, and began to whine and whim-
per as dogs do when there is something at hand
they do not understand. When I would change
my position, the dog would do likewise, planting
himself directly behind me, where he continued
to give vent to a peculiar sort of sound; a sound
between a squeak and a whine.
“As the huge ball of mist came nearer, I picked
up a stone the size of an egg, which I hurled at
the floating mass. As the stone left my hand, the
balloon-shaped cloud assumed the shape of a sail-
ing vessel of an ancient type. The mast, spars and
sails seemed to be sheeted with sparkling frost
“As I watched the apparition, sounds, appar-
ently produced by the dropping of heavy timbers
on the deck, came to my ears with chilling dis-
tinctness. As the sounds ceased, several men in
the dress of sailors appeared upon the deck, stand-
ing in a circle of close formation.
“After a few moments the sailors on my side
of the circle stepped aside, revealing a large square
of canvas spread upon the deck, upon which lay
the corpse of a young and beautiful girl, whose
wrappings were, like the ship, covered with hoar-
frost which glittered in the rays of the afternoon
“The ship suddenly veered over to my side of
the river — and I recognized the corpse of that of
Margaret Stanley, my best girl-friend — we were
to have been married early the following spring.
‘Margy!’ I shouted, preparing to descend to
“At the sound of my voice, ship and sailors
instantly vanished from view. Although I re-
mained upon the bank until long after sunset, I
saw nothing more of the strange phenomenon.
A month later, I visited the Stanley home and
was told of Margaret’s death, which took place
the same afternoon I beheld the Spectral Ship of
Death upon the waters of the Platte.”
(Signed) Leon Webber.
T7R0M its mystic harbor the phantom vessel
A again sailed in the autumn of 1887 and ap-
peared to Gene Wilson, a cattleman. His report
to the Cheyenne bureau is as follows:
“While rounding up some stray cattle along the
Platte, my dog ran a few rods ahead of me and,
while looking up the river, began to raise a ter-
rible rumpus. I was, at the time, some ten miles
east of Casper. I tried to ride my horse nearer
the bank, but he had evidently seen what the
dog was barking at and, try as I would, he could
not be made to approach. Throwing the reins
over his head, I dismounted, when he gave a loud
snort and started to run away. I caught him and
tied him to a scrub pine, then approached the
bank on foot.
“While gazing out upon the swiftly running
water, I saw something that set my nerves atingle.
Near the middle of the stream was a full-rigged
( Continued on page 152)
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(Continued from Page 150 )
sailing vessel under full sail, yet it did not move
at all! It was held back, apparently, by a stern
“Walking up the bank that I might be opposite
the thing, I saw nine men on board who appeared
to be sailors. Ship sounds were heard, but they
seemed to be coming from the other side of the
river, and not from the ship. The man whom I
took to be the captain of this strange vessel stood
with his arms folded, staring toward the bow of
the ship, giving orders to his men without turn-
ing his head.
“ ‘Stand from under!’ came a voice from some-
where among the rigging — but the speaker was
hidden from view by the ice-covered sails. As
the voice was heard, the sailors on deck instantly
removed their caps and stood uncovered, while
the ship suddenly veered over to a point not
thirty feet from where I was standing. ‘Let down !’
said the captain without a sign of animation.
“At the captain’s command, a square of canvas
was lowered to the deck by four ropes attached
to its corners. Lying upon the canvas and cov-
ered with another piece of frost-laden sailcloth
was what I surmised to be a corpse. In this my
conclusions were correct. As the sheet came to
rest upon the deck, one of the sailors stepped for-
ward and grasping a corner of the sheet, drew it
aside, disclosing the face of a woman who seemed
to be terribly burned. In spite of the frightfully
scarred face, I recognized my wife !
“Overcome with terror, I screamed and cov-
ered my eyes. When I looked again, the ship had
vanished. After a few moments, I rose and
mounted my horse and, with all speed, returned
home to relate to my wife what I had seen. Top-
ping a hill a quarter of a mile west of my house,
my heart stopped beating; my blood froze in my
veins. There, in full view, I discovered my home
in ashes! Spurring my horse to a run, I was soon
beside the smoldering embers, frantically calling
to my wife, who, I was certain, was somewhere
within the hearing of my voice.
“Receiving no reply to my repeated calls, I
hastened toward the river which ran within a
hundred yards of what had Deen my home, when
I came suddenly upon the remains of my wife,
burned to death. My supposition is that, upon
discovering her clothing to be on fire, she had run
toward the river bank, hoping to extinguish the
flames by plunging herself into the water.”
(Signed) Gene Wilson.
'T'HE spectral ship last appeared on the after-
noon of November 20, 1903. Victor Heibe, the
witness, was chopping up a fallen tree on the river
bank near his home at Bessemer Bend. Several
months previously he had defended with his testi-
mony his friend, Thomas Horn, on trial for mur-
der in the criminal court at Cheyenne. But Horn
had been convicted of the crime and sentenced to
hang. Shortly later the condemned man managed
to escape from the jail with another prisoner, but
at the time of the ship’s appearance Heibe did not
know that Horn had been recaptured.
Pausing in his work to light his pipe, Heibe
glanced up the river and noticed a huge ball of
fog apparently resting on the surface of the water.
The misty mass was slowly moving down the
stream, but not as fast as the current was flowing.
He glanced at his watch. It was exactly three-
fifteen. Suddenly the sounds of excited voices
came from the approaching fog-ball.
Then, as the ball drew nearer and grew in size,
it began to assume the form of an ancient sailing
vessel under full sail, but moving slowly, with
every inch of its surface covered with gleaming
ice. Several sailors were active on the deck. While
Heibe watched, spellbound, a large sheet of canvas
was lowered in front of the sailors on the deck.
And from behind the canvas voices again drifted
across the water.
“All right,” said one voice distinctly, “but I am
telling you that you are hanging an innocent man.”
“That,” came a second voice in reply, “is not
for us to determine. You were tried and con-
victed for the murder, and it is our duty to ferry
you across. Men, do your duty.”
By this time the vapory vessel, slowly moving
inshore, had reached a point about twenty feet
from shore, the surface of the river being about
ten feet below the bank on which Mr. Heibe was
standing. And suddenly the sheet of canvas was
raised to its former position among the sails re-
vealing a scene of horror on the phantom’s deck.
Mr. Heibe’s report pictures the grim sight as
follows: “On the forward deck just to the rear
of the captain, who faced the bow of the craft,
stood a gallows of the ‘L’ type, from whose cross-
arms was suspended the body of a man they had
just hanged. As the body swayed to and fro from
the rocking of the ship, it turned so that I gazed
directly into the face. It was the blackened face
of my dearest friend — he whom I had defended
with my testimony in the court at Cheyenne only
a few months previously.”
As Heibe stumbled down the river bank, shout-
ing, the ship slowly and silently returned to the
middle of the stream and faded from view. Later
inquiry revealed that Thomas Horn had been
hanged in the jail yard at Cheyenne on the after-
noon of the same day. And perhaps it should be
added that Mr. Heibe did not know that the
phantom vessel had appeared twice before until
he was asked by the bureau to file his own ac-
count of his weird experience.
Three times the phantom ship of the Platte,
under full sail and coated with glittering ice, has
emerged from out of the vasty deep. When will
it again appear with its tale of gruesome tragedy ?
( Continued on Page 154)
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(Continued, from Page 152)
DR. JOHN DEE
J OHN DEE’S name is associated with the
annals of alchemy, in the laboratory of the
hermetic researcher, and in the study of the
curious. He accomplished very little, and in his
futile research he lost his youth, immolated his
peace, his reputation; ruined his body and mind,
and even prostituted his wife upon the altar of
alchemy, and finally passed unmourned into a
John Dee was born in London in 1527, and
from the very beginning, showed a very keen
mind. In St. James college he spent about twenty
hours a day reading, and when his fellow students
would always see his dim light still on at dawn,
they started rumors about him. He was shunned
and the word “sorcery” was used in connection
with his name. This unbearable environment
finally was too much for him and he left Cam-
bridge for Louvain, where he found encourage-
ment in his strange work. He returned to England
when he was twenty-four, and was received at
Court and had a pension of one hundred crowns.
He remained there for several years as an astrol-
oger, till he was thrown in prison with a charge
of conspiracy and heresy against Queen Mary.
He was accused of being a conjuror and a caller
of devils. By convincing the Bishop of the or-
thodoxy of his faith, he was acquitted of both
charges. For the next few years, he had an easy
time. With Elizabeth on the throne, his fortunes
grew. Elizabeth had consulted Dee as to the exact
time of Mary’s death and also about the date of
her coronation. As a philosopher, he enjoyed many
privileges among royalty.
TREE’S greatest dream was to bridge the gulf
and explore the mystic borderland. He be-
lieved that it might be possible for him to hold
converse with spirits and angels, and to learn
through them the secrets of the universe. He said
that one day when he was in deep prayer, the
window of his museum glowed with a dazzling
light, in the midst of which stood the angel Uriel.
The angel smiled graciously and gave him a crys-
tal of convex form telling him that if he wished
to communicate with beings of another sphere, he
only had to gaze into it, and they would appear
and tell him all the secrets of futurity.
Dee’s experiments with the crystal were fairly
successful, but he was never able to recall any of
the revelations made to him. So he decided to
confide his secret to another who could look into
the crystal and talk with the spirits while Dee,
in the corner of the room, could take notes. So
he took into his confidence Edward Kelly, the
man in the black skull cap. The cap was always
worn to conceal the fact that he was without ears.
He was accused of forging title deeds, and was
pilloried in Lancaster, having both ears cut off,
which was most humiliating to a philosopher.
After his trial he fled to Wales and there he led
an outdoor life, wandering about the hills in his
long black cloak and tightly fitted skull cap with
only a bit of his features visible. Kelly came into
an inn in Glastonbury Abbey to spend the night.
The innkeeper, noting Kelly’s interest in ancient
writings, produced a manuscript in the old Welsh
language that was concerning the transmutation of
metals. It had been brought to light when the
grave of a bishop in a neighboring church had been
molested. There was found the manuscript which
the violators were unable to read, and two caskets
of ivory, containing respectively, red and white
powder, which they thought were valueless. Kelly
bought the whole collection for a guinea and be-
lieved he had the essentials for the performance
of the magnum opus. The manuscript was the
book of St. Dunstan, who was the archbishop
of Canterbury and was thought to be an alchem-
ist. Kelly took his treasures and went back to
London where he went in partnership with Dr.
Dee. Spirits appeared to Kelly and they had long
discourses which were recorded by Dee. As the
men were discussing the transmutation of base
metal into pure gold, Kelly claimed that he could
do this, and as proof, placed the Glastonbury man-
uscript and the two caskets before the amazed Dr.
Dee. He was intrigued by the glamour of the
story and readily financed the schemes of his
sordid-minded partner. They worked years try-
ing the transmutation and claimed to have some
success. As their funds were running low, they
had occasion to meet a wealthy Polish nobleman,
Count Albert Laski. Laski admired the accom-
plishments of Dee and Kelly, who cleverly invited
him to one of their private seances. Kelly worked
himself up into a frenzy and then stared intently
into the crystal. He prophecied to the Count
that he would become the fortunate possessor of
the philosophers stone, that he was going to live
for centuries, and that he would rule Poland.
Then he urged Laski to take Dr. Dee and himself
back to Poland with him. The scheme worked
and in no time Dee and Kelly and their families
were living in luxury on Laski’s money. They set
up great laboratories and commenced operations
to turn base metal into pure gold. One experiment
after another failed till even Laski’s purse began
to feel the strain. He had mortgaged his estates
till ruination was at hand.
So in 1584, the philosophic leeches dropped off
the poor Laski and went out in search of a new
victim. The two families went to Bohemia where
alchemy was the main topic in Prague. Even the
apartment in the Imperial Palace was fitted out
as an alchemical laboratory. So you can imagine
how well the possessors of St. Dunstan’s powders
were received. It was reported that Kelly was
having absolute success in transmuting and that he
had performed one of these operations at the home
of the Imperial physician. The truth of the mat-
ter was not verified, but for certain, both families
were pulled out of deepest poverty to great wealth.
A few months later, for unknown reasons they
were asked to leave Bohemia within twenty -four
hours. They went from one wealthy family of
nobility to another, taking out of each all that
they could get. It is said that they spent four
years with Count Rosenburg of Trebona. Kelly
had told Rosenburg that he would become King
of Poland, and would live five hundred years, pro-
vided of course that he would supply them with
sufficient funds to carry on their experiments.
\17HILE they were staying with the count, Kelly
T and Dee had many arguments, Dee being a
weak character, would always give in. Kelly’s
wife was an ill-tempered, plain looking woman,
while Mrs. Dee was very pretty. Kelly had for
long been attracted to Dee’s wife, so one day while
consulting the crystal, Kelly told Dee that a naked
woman had appeared to him and told him that
they should share their wives in common. Dee
declared that the suggestion was made by a sat-
ellite of the Evil One and refused to listen to such
instructions. A quarrel took place and Kelly left
his associate telling him that he would never come
back. Dee was now without a proper medium,
and tried out many people including his eight year
old son whom he made to look into the crystal
for weeks. His thoughts kept returning to Kelly,
whom he missed greatly. After some time Kelly
did return and Dee felt himself blessed with good-
fortune to have a colleague who could so readily
communicate with the spirits who had failed to
appear for anyone else. When Kelly told him that
again the spirit had repeated the command that
they should share their two wives in common, the
weak philosopher bowed to the evil spirit that in-
sisted upon such a cruel arrangement.
Again the party went to Prague. Rudolph, the
Emperor, became so furious at Kelly for not being
able to produce that he finally threw him in a
dungeon. He gained his liberty by promising to
produce the stone if allowed to return to his
colleague, Dee. Then Dee’s home was made into
a prison for Kelly who worked day and night in
his futile attempts to compile the Stone of the
Philosophers. At last he gave up in despair, and
tried to escape. He murdered one of his guards
but was caught and sent to the Castle of Zerner.
Dr. Dee and his family set out for England,
with great wealth and many coaches and servants.
He had previously sent to Queen Elizabeth, a
round piece of silver which he claimed he had
transmuted from a piece of a brass warming pan.
This had the desired effect and he was invited to
return to England. The queen told him that noth-
ing should stand in the way of his experiments
in alchemical research. Soon he had spent all
the money he had accumulated in Prague, but
Elizabeth could not believe that he was in want,
for after all he was able to make gold from baser
metal, and so the only favors she gave him were
occassional audiences and her protection. Dee
(Continued on Page 156)
WHY BE AFRAID OF THE DARK?
T HERE are two reasons why we fear the
dark; one is physical and the other is
spiritual. There was good reason for our
primitive fathers to become frightened when
darkness came. The jungle life awakened and
went forth in search of food, and many feasted
on men who were frightened by the luminous
eyes peering at them through the darkness.
Along with this physical fear was the spiritual
fear which was more overwhelming. Even to
this day, the superstitious believe that ghosts
walk about at night and that the air is filled
with demons. Some believed that “vampires”
came out of their graves at night and fed on
human blood sucked from people while they were
sleeping. There were many reasons why people
believed that harmful spirits were more apt to
be about at night than during the day. The Sun
and Earth were believed to be man and wife.
This couple required each other to produce living
things, but each one could singly transmit power.
It was believed that the Sun could impregnate a
maiden and become the father of her child. Some-
times this was regarded as a privilege and the
saying “Happy the bride that the sun shines on”
is a result of this belief. Other people were afraid
of the powers of the sun, and a bridal couple
were kept under a canopy to prevent a union
between the sun and bride.
The Earth was also capable of wonder-working
through its power of generation. In old Greek
lore there was a giant named Antaeus who was
the darling of Earth, his All-Mother. Whenever
he touched the ground his strength was unbe-
lievable. During a wrestling match, whenever he
was thrown to the ground, his mother, Earth,
renewed his vigor and he was invincible. But
Heracles was able to conquer him by holding him
high in the air where his mother could not reach
him, and choking him to death.
Canopies were also used in the case of mon-
archs who were not allowed to touch the ground
with their bare feet, or have the sun shine on
their heads. Some countries furnished royal um-
brellas. The reason for these precautions was
that at that time, holiness and love were the
same and holiness was always full of danger. So
if the sun or earth came in contact with a flower-
ing maiden or with a monarch, there would be
dire results for all concerned. The sun might die
out, and the earth become barren, the royalty
would become lazy, and young girls would not
Ghosts were believed to walk at night because
of the fact that they could not endure the light
of the sun. The forces of Life meant light, and
death was the mysterious powers of the Darkness.
So the sun was blessed by man not only because
it made the land and the people on it fruitful,
but because it caused the demons, witches, and
vampires to flee in confusion.
struggled till his health failed him. He tried his
crystal-gazing but did not do so well without
Kelly. He was finally on the verge of starvation
and applied to the Queen for relief. She gave him
small sums and a position as Warden to the college
of Manchester. While Dee was at Manchester,
Kelly died in an attempted escape from his dun-
geon. The death of his lifelong friend and the
persecution to which he was subjected at the col-
lege caused him to lose his mind. He died penni-
less in 1608, and was buried near his home.
* * *
THE LITTLE MAN INSIDE
T HERE is a new novel out today, “The In-
different Children,” by Andrew Lee, which
contains a paragraph well-worth quoting,
from a psychological standpoint. The passage
goes like this:
. . if he was ever to get to the bottom of
fact and experience, if he was ever to kill the little
observer inside him, that duplicated self whose
prying gaze made his every act vicarious, then he
had to separate himself from generalities; he had
to concentrate on the fact that the whole can’t be
greater than the sum of its parts.”
Note that phrase, the little observer inside. How
many of us have been disturbed by that little
fellow? Nearly everyone at one time or another
has felt, that inside him was or is another self,
who stands aside and sort of observes the actions
of the person. No matter how intensely a man
may apply himself to a task, be it the courting of
a girl or the construction of a machine, many
times it has been recorded in personal experi-
ence, that a part of a man stands aside and notes
what is going on. This may be in the form of
cynical mental observations such as “what are
you doing this for?”, or “what a silly fool you’re
making of yourself,” or “is it worthwhile — what
you’re doing?” or, “why are you doing this when
you know it won’t be appreciated?” These and a
thousand similar questions may be asked by this
little invisible man. In many cases this little man
operates to our detriment. He may even induce a
feeling of inferiority within us, a feeling which is
hard to attribute to any concrete cause. The voice
whispers within us. Perhaps in a way, this is the
origin of the legendary German “Doppelganger.”
That means literally “A double-goer.” It is sort of
what we would call a duel personality or a
If this manifestation was felt only by people
who are not in good health either physically or
mentally, or people whom we can not rely upon
for accurate statements, we could question the
matter. But this is not so. Every one of us has
felt the same thing to a greater or lesser degree.
It is a common experience in which we all share.
And the written records show such things in abun-
dance. The real mystery is that the matter is not
more commonly discussed.
T_TOW often have we heard of people hearing
“voices?” A vast number of people have
been bothered with this weird phenomenon for
ages. Such people have often felt themselves ob-
sessed by a “devil.” We may laugh at such things
but that doesn’t cancel the reality of the hypo-
thetical voice to the person hearing it.
It has not always operated to the detriment of
people of course. Consider great leaders who have
felt it. Consider great artists and to a lesser ex-
tent, great scientists. All have been inspired at one
time or another by these intuitive voices.
This is not something to which a measuring in-
strument can be applied, for it is much too subtle
for that. There is no way of using a meter-stick
on mystic facts. That is why so little material in
the legitimate scientific world, is found of this
There is one man today who is trying to put
this mysterious activity of the human mind on a
scientific basis. He is Dr. J. B. Rhine of Duke
University. We all are familiar with his experi-
ments in “extra-sensory-perception,” often short-
ened to “E.S.P.” It is not so well known a fact
that he has also experimented to some extent
with such unusual things as we have been dis-
cussing. In his way, the man is a fearless scien-
tist. He feels that he is on the threshold of a new
world of phenomena, new in the sense that these
things have not been explored. Actually of course
we know that these things are as old as the re-
corded histories of mankind.
With such cold and logical and calculating
brains devoted to the mystery of why we are
influenced by “little men in the mind” or “in-
tuition” or “auto-suggestion,” perhaps a whole
new field of scientific endeavor will be opened.
Many philosophers have said “Man knows every-
thing — excepting himself!” Probably no truer
observation was ever made. If people begin ac-
crediting the men who are willing to venture into
these little known fields of science — not mysticism
— a whole new way of living and enjoying life
will be opened to us.
* * *
M ANY years ago in the fifteenth century
there came into being through necessity,
a group of men whose profession was
to seek out people suspected of being witches and
proving their guilt. Mr. Sprenger, of Germany,
had the distinction of being the most active man
of his profession. He made up a form of trial,
and also a course of examination by which his
predessors even in other countries could discover
witches. Sprenger alone was responsible for 500
deaths each year. Within three months, 900 were
killed in Wurzburg, 600 in Bamberg, and 500 in
Geneva. A judge in Lorraine took pride in the
fact that he had condemned 900. The Archbishop
of Treves blamed the cold spring of 1586 to
witchcraft, and burned 1 IS women at one time.
Pricking was the most common mode of dis-
covering whether a person was one of Satan’s
children. The suspects were stripped naked and
pricked all over with sharp instruments. The
“physicians” were always anxious to find a spot
that was insensible to pain, for that was a certain
proof of guilt. The victims would scream when
the needles were driven into them and were treated
so cruelly that death would have been welcome.
As their bodies became numbed by pain and un-
consciousness and they failed to react to certain
pricking, they were immediately burned as witches.
A French professor in 1720 gives the following
symptoms as being signs that a person is be-
1. Vomiting needles, nails, and pieces of glass.
2. Continual burning pains in the region of the
heart, and the inability to retain food, and the
feeling that balls were rising and falling in the
3. Suddenly becoming ill, and wasting away
without any known cause.
4. Prescribed medicines having the opposite ef-
fect and making the disease more intense instead
of curing. To such an extent were cases against
suspected witches, that even an old sow and her
litter of little pigs were found guilty and put to
James VI of Scotland was a notorious witch-
finder. The cruel ways in which he tortured the
beautiful Gellie Duncan and her friend, Dr. Fian,
are to the discredit of James VI. After the exami-
nation of Dr. Fian by James was concluded, he
could no longer be called a man. His legs, in his
high boots, were crushed to a pulp; his finger
nails had been drawn out by pincers, and needles
had been thrust way through his eyes. Restora-
tives had been given to him time after time to
make him suffer more pain. In Manningtree, Es-
sex, in the year 1644, there came into prominence
a master witch-finder named Mathew Hopkins.
His method of proving guilt was that of “swim-
ming” the suspect. The right thumb of the victim
was tied to the left toe, and the left thumb was
tied to the right toe, and then he was wrapped
in a blanket and placed on the back in a pool. If
the suspect floated, as was nearly always the case,
he was guilty, and was burned alive; but if he
sank, he was innocent. Either way was to lose.
Matthew Hopkins traveled in style with his assis-
tants. They were put up at the best inns at the ex-
pense of the villagers and charged 20s. per head
for each “witch” that they convicted. Another one
of Hopkins ingenious ways of detecting witches
was to place a woman in a room crosslegged on a
stool. She was then watched by his assistants for
twenty-four hours. All during this time she was
kept without food or drink. Hopkins’ theory was
that at some time during the twenty-four hours,
one of her imps would come- to suck her blood.
The imp might be in the form of a fly or most any
insect, and all the doors were left open. It was
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the duty of the assistants to kill all the insects
that appeared, and if a fly should escape, it was
her imp, and the woman was pronounced guilty
and sentenced to burn at the stake. Fortunately,
Hopkins’ idea backfired and he was “swum” ac-
cording to his own methods, and of course was
either drowned or burned.
Witches were seldom hanged because it was
thought that burning was much more effective,
for the blood was prevented from being hereditary
* * * * *
T HE slave-traders of the eighteenth and
nineteenth centuries found their most fertile
source of human supplies on the west coast
of Africa. Mercilessly they raided the Gold Coast,
Portuguese Mozambique, and all those western
African lands that later became huge colonies of
the major European powers.
As time went on, the natives became more and
more wary and it was necessary for the slavers to
use more devious and subtle methods to enmesh
their prey. Often pretending to be innocent goods-
traders, they would lure large numbers of natives
into their trading compounds and after surround-
ing them, seize them, chain them and ship them to
the Americas. Sometimes a variation of this
technique would require a more effective spokes-
man and lure in the form of what we would call
a “Quizling” native. This native would be highly
paid to summon his “friends” to a position where
they could be captured by the slavers.
Captain Jeremy Teecourser, an unblushing
scoundrel and a vicious slaver of forty years stand-
ing, relates an incident which even in his highly
practical eyes assumes mysterious proportions. On
October 11, 1754, the good captain landed on the
west coast of Africa, where he contacted almost
immediately a renegade native from the G’Moto
tribe, a group of brave and courageous natives,
who would ordinarily never be caught by slavers.
Using Gallo (the native’s name) an assistant chief,
and promising him great wealth, Teecourser was
able to make a haul of “Black Ivory” of great size.
He bagged a great number of the tribesmen.
Having full confidence in Gallo who had been an
assistant chief for many years, they were caught
flat-footed— among them was the chief, G’Moto,
an elderly but noble man of some seventy years.
Teecourser took him with, primarily to keep the
natives more or less pacified and to prevent them
from giving him any more trouble than was
Teecourser took his load of slaves to Haiti after
paying off Gallo and ordinarily the affair would
have ended then. But a colleague, also hunting
slaves, caught up a bunch of natives, among whom
was the traitor, Gallo. Gallo could do nothing
with this new man, of course, and he, too, was
shipped as a slave. But more than coincidence
seems to have stepped in, for he was shipped to
Haiti, too !
News travels fast among enslaved peoples. It
was not long after Gallo was working in Haiti on
a plantation, that his presence became known to
G’Moto’s tribe, most of whom had been sent to
the opposite end of the island. The night of this
discovery, in their miserable huts, the tribesmen
held a voodoo meeting, certainly intent on destroy-
ing the cause of their misery. Plans were made to
sneak one man away, a young powerful warrior
whose duty was to cut Gallo’s throat. But before
he could run away, G’Moto stepped in.
TTE HARANGUED his tribesmen long and
-*■ loudly. He pointed out that the gods could
be satisfied only by Gallo’s death through their
intervention. Therefore they must plead with the
gods to destroy Gallo — not to do it themselves so
directly. Respecting G’Moto, they acceded, and
long into the night the weird prayers and chant-
ings went on. The drums beat almost silently.
On the other end of the island, Gallo knew what
was going on — he felt it.
All through the night the invocations to the god
went on, progressing from the mad voodoo dance
to the sacrifice of the chicken. What a sight that
must have been ! In the dimly -lit, smoke-filled,
reeking huts, fifty powerful lusty young warriors
and maidens went into their frenzied dance to the
muted beats of the drums, beats, that crept in the
mind not through the ears, but through the oiled
black skin. At the height of the orgiastic festival,
when the compound was literally filled with mad-
dened beasts, G’Moto arose from the dias where he
reigned, and with his powerful wiry fingers tore
out the throat of the writhing chicken handed him
by one of the dancers. The blood gushed out over
G’Moto and bathed in his enemy’s heart-fluid,
G’Moto symbolically enjoyed the death of Gallo.
For a week, apparently nothing. Then one
morning, an overseer, making the usual morning
rounds, stumbled into one of the huts where his
master’s slaves were kept. He looked down at an
inert object and then shuddered.
There law Gallo, his sightless eyes grinning up-
ward, his face a death-mask, and his throat a
bloody mass of torn flesh and gristle, as if some
gigantic mouth had torn it asunder ! Gallo had
met his fate!
There is no explanation. No native would ever
admit doing it, and even if he had, it was almost
a physical impossibility to do anything of the sort.
Logicians can explain away such things very easily,
but there are those, even today, who prefer to
think that there was the intercession of some
foreign agent. Captain Teecourser, shrewd old
Yankee that he was, only related the story — he
never offered any explanations, and when ques-
tioned on this he gave the answer that he often
used in his diaries — “There arc strange
things . .
WHITE LADY OF DEATH
T HE legendary “white lady” of the Hollen-
zollerns is said to have appeared before
every crisis in the history of the family.
During the fourteenth century the widow of a
nobleman fell in love with a Hollenzollern prince
who ruled over Brandenburg. The prince told
her that he could never marry her because of
“four eyes.” Because she had two children, she
thought that he was referring to them, so she
pushed her eyes out thinking that she was remov-
ing the obstacle to their marriage. After she had
done this, he still did not marry her, and she died
soon after the tragedy. Since her death she has
haunted the palaces of the Hollenzollerns, always
appearing as an omen of death.
During the reign of Frederick the First, the
Queen was giving a royal ball. Many of the crown
heads of Europe were present. The queen was
playing cards with some ambassadors and the
young people were dancing, when suddenly the
music stopped. The young princesses came run-
ning to her, pale and horrified. They said that
they had looked out the window and had seen the
Lady in White floating among the lilac bushes.
A heavy silence settled over the gay ballroom
scene, and all that could be heard was the sound
of the king hammering in his carpentry shop.
He was troubled with gout and the exercise kept
him from being so stiff. The sweet scent of lilacs
floated through the windows and sentries came
from different wings and gates of the palace to
report that they had seen the White Lady floating
through the corridors and gardens.
After the queen recovered her composure, she
ordered the music to start for the dancers, and she
sat down again to play cards. Suddenly there
were exclamations of wonder and delight, and the
queen turned, and to her great surprise, saw the
king coming down the corridor. His eyes reflected
anger and his legs trembled even though he was
supported by two valets. He came straight to the
queen and grabbed her savagely by the arm. He
uttered disgust at the sight of her wearing jewelry
and enjoying earthly pleasures. He commanded
all to follow him and refused to disclose his plan.
No one dared to disobey, and the long procession
of bejewelled ladies and gentlemen of his court
followed the royal pair through endless corridors
and staircases until they at last reached the White
Salon which Frederick had built and decorated.
The doors were flung open and the queen cried in
horror as she saw two coffins. The king explained
in his cruel sarcastic voice that he had made them
himself that very night while she revelled with the
others. His sadistic mind commanded her to climb
into her coffin that he had just made for her, in
order that he and all the others might see just how
she would look. The queen faltered a moment as
though she might dare to disobey, but then she
asked her maids to help her. She lifted the hem
of her royal robe and stepped over the edge of her
coffin. She stood regally for a moment and then
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lay still and calm with her eyes closed in her new
white coffin. The king looked at her with cruel
lines marking his face. In a few minutes she
opened her eyes and looked at him, and then
climbed out of the coffin. She bowed to the king
and told him it was now his turn. His courtiers
helped him to lie down in his coffin and he re-
marked that he would soon be sleeping there. At
that very moment, the grave silence was broken
by cries and the sound of sentries running in the
antechamber. It seems that they had seen the
Lady in White go through the whole corridor and
enter the room where they were congregated.
They were all numbed with fear and the king
asked if the White Lady wore white gloves or
black ones. When the Lady wears white gloves,
it means a woman is to die, and if she wears
black gloves it means the death of a man. One
of the aids finally broke the silence by telling the
king that she wore black gloves. He knew that
her presence meant death for him and he asked
to be helped from the coffin saying that he would
be put back in it soon enough.
The next morning the king lay dying. The
White Lady of death had won again.
• * *
THE CORNER STONE
I N MODERN times the ceremony of “laying
the cornerstone” is regarded as having only
sentimental value, and adding nothing to the
stability of the building. Competent architects
and skilled workmen insure permanence and
strength of the structure, and if the man who
lays the cornerstone drops dead during the cere-
mony, it will have no effect on the permanence
of the building. Years ago the opposite was true.
Laying the cornerstone with a solemn ceremony,
sacrificing a human being, was much more im-
portant than the workmanship. Then the people
believed that the soil was owned by the spirits
and they resented having human beings deface
their landscapes with their dwellings. These spirits
were so powerful that if they were not continu-
ally appeased, they could destroy the human race.
So the art of making the gods happy was the
most important one of all for without their hap-
piness all the other arts would be meaningless.
There is a Danish legend that has to do with a
curse upon the walls of Copenhagen. Each time
they built the walls up, they fell down again.
Finally the people took a sweet little girl and sat
her on the ground with her toys. While she was
amusing herself, they built the \^alls around her.
Without this sacrifice, all the skill in the world
would have been of no help, but by the offering
of this child, the gods were appeased, the curse
was lifted, and the walls of the city were allowed
While the fort of Scutari was being built, a
ghost appeared and demanded that a certain
woman be buried alive in the foundation. The
builders thought it would be impractical to go
on with their work and not heed the demand of
one in the great beyond, so the sacrifice was car-
There is a German legend that two brothers
lie entombed in the foundation of the Strassburg
Cathedral. Also a story that the wife of a fa-
mous architect, who had drawn up the plans for a
certain edifice, was cemented into the foundation
at the command of an archangel from heaven.
These human sacrifices were hard on the tender-
hearted people, so in years to come, the priests,
who were representatives of the gods, contented
themselves with the first fruits of the flocks or
There is a Jewish legend that when the Jews
were told to make bricks without adding straw,
they were not able to make their quota in their
allotted time. So the Pharaoh commanded them
to brick up little children in the walls that should
have been filled with bricks.
Fortunately a change was made from offering
human beings. For instance a ram was slaugh-
tered instead of Isaac, and a doe in place of
Iphigenia. In some places in Africa, the shadow
of the man is believed to contain his soul. So
when a hut was to be built, it was the custom
for someone to sneak up to an unsuspecting person
and measure his shadow with a stick and then
throw the stick into the ground that was to bo
covered by the hut. Of course, no African would
want his shadow entombed if he could avoid it,
for it would mean that his soul had been given
to the foundation gods and he couldn’t expect to
live much longer. But this was much better than
burying the man himself.
So from such pagan beginnings, our modern
ceremony of laying the cornerstone has developed.
Instead of scaling a man, woman, or animal in
the cornerstone, we seal in some documents of
historic interest, so that when the building becomes
old and is torn down, archaeologists may find in-
formation of our civilization.
* * *
THE EXTINCT TRIBE
OF THE ABIPONES
T HE ABIPONES were a South American
tribe which wandered over the Gran Chaco
region. They became expert horsemen and
were implacable foes of the Spaniards. They
made their living by hunting, and were physically
well built. For weapons they used the bow and
arrow, lance and shield. The women of the tribe
did the tattooing, and the men practiced couvade.
Couvade was a primitive custom in which the
man of the family took to his bed when a child
was born, or cared for the child, or submitted
himself to fasting and purification. Because of
constant wars with the Spaniards and also due
to their customs of killing all but two children
born to a family, the tribe which once numbered
5000 is now extinct.
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THE GHOST OF
★ By A. MORRIS *
N APOLEON’S mother was living alone in
an apartment in Rome during the spring
of 1821. Although she was old, blind and
nearly paralyzed, she never gave up in her efforts
to help her son, Napoleon, who was exiled on the
rock of St. Helena four thousand miles away. She
managed to send him two priests, a servant and a
cook, and a Corsican doctor. There was a great
love between Napoleon and his mother. He had
always said: “All that I am and was I owe to my
mother; she taught me her own principles and
encouraged me in the habit of work.”
During his six years of exile his mother, Letizia,
never gave up hope that some day he would return
to France. It was a warm spring day in May,
1821, and Letizia sat dozing in her drawing room.
Her porter was also napping in the hallway down-
stairs, when a harsh voice spoke to him command-
ing him to take him to ‘La Signora Madre’. He
said he had brought news of her son, the exiled
Emperor at St. Helena. The porter delivered his
message to Letizia, and she said to show him in at
once. The stranger stepped into the room and did
not drop his enormous cloak till the door had
closed behind him. When he revealed himself,
Letizia could see him clearly even though all else
was blurred. Letizia was unable to speak, but her
shaking hands caressed his cheek. She thought
that he had managed to escape St. Helena and
had come to her for shelter. He stepped back
away from her and said in a solemn manner, “May
the fifth, eighteen hundred and twenty-one — to-
day !” His tone of voice paralyzed her senses and
he stepped back and vanished from her sight. She
hurried to the porter in the hallway and asked
where the stranger had gone, but the porter said
that he had not yet left her apartment.
On that very day on the rock of St. Helena in
the Atlantic, the birds were not singing. Instead it
was raining furiously. Napoleon lay dying on the
narrow camp bed he had used in Austerlitz. There
was the sickening odor of stables coming in
through the cracks of his shabby bedroom, and
rats ran about among his few little keepsakes —
candlesticks from St. Cloud, a picture of Josephine,
a gold watch of Rivoli, a silver clock from Fred-
erick the Great. The light from a night-lamp cast
an eerie veil over the Roman Emperor’s face and
brought back the ghost of the youth Letizia had
It was three months before Letizia learned that
Napoleon had died on May fifth, eighteen twenty-
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